Monday, September 9, 2013

CORN! bread, cakes, and muffins.

Sometimes there's something you eat for your whole life and it gives you a great "goes with lots of things!" recipe. One of my mom's standby recipes when we were growing up was a quick version of chili that she always served with cornmeal muffins. The cornmeal muffins are quite simple, so there are all sorts of things you can do with them! The base recipe is:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup salad oil
1 egg
(It's all ones and threes, so I've had it memorized for years.) Whisk the dry, whisk the wet, stir them together until they're combined, then put the batter into greased or sprayed muffin tins and bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top!

Over the years I've made lots of variations. I now typically sub buttermilk in for the plain stuff. Melted butter (with the buttermilk warmed so that it doesn't solidify again) makes for a yummy substitution. A strong honey instead of sugar gives it a nice twist, and so does cheese and jalapenos. You can also add fresh sweet corn or creamed corn. I really enjoy cooking it in a hot buttered skillet in the oven or on the barbecue, too. Sometimes I drizzle it with honey before I bake it.

During a botched sorghum-molasses bacon smoking during which the bacon was slow-roasted instead of smoked so that it was crispy, sticky and melty (so good) I had a late night snack idea: put the roasty-bacon-belly onto cornbread with honey. It was amaaaazing. The next morning I served up the rest of the bacon on cornbread pancakes with butter, honey, and black pepper, and it was even better. I don't normally have mistake pork belly lying around, but the results can be replicated with thick-cut bacon.
Bacon Honey Corncakes1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup mild honey
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk, warmed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
Additional honey
Additional black pepper
Additional butter
6 slices thick-cut bacon
Preheat the oven to 350F and lay bacon flat on a baking sheet, then grind black pepper onto it. Place bacon into oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare pancakes.
Whisk the dry ingredients, then the wet, then combine them together to make a batter.
Spray or butter a pan as you would for pancakes over medium heat. Spoon the pancakes onto the pan and cook in batches, until golden brown on both sides. Butter each while hot.
When the bacon is done (just short of crispy - or to your liking), drain the fat and chop it into pieces about as long as the corncakes are wide. Lay one (or more!) piece of bacon across each corncake. Drizzle each cake generously with honey and grind black pepper over them to taste. 
Serve on their own or with other delicious things and enjoy!