A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

brown butter cornbread

Although there are still a few days left before the Autumnal Equinox officially ushers in fall — with its crisp days and crunchy leaves, summer has been quietly fading for weeks now.  The days have grown increasingly shorter, the sunlight itself seems softer, and the smell of wood smoke from neighbors’ fireplaces has replaced the quintessentially summertime scent of sunscreen.  All of which leaves me feeling restless and wistful.

I begin to realize that afternoons squandered in tidying up the house or running errands might have been better spent lounging on the beach, and to regret those nights I succumbed to the siren song of takeout pizza rather than avail myself of summer’s abundant and delicious fresh produce.  I’m disappointed to discover that I did not pack enough summer into my summer.

So when my favorite corn farmer warned me last weekend that we could expect only three more weeks of corn, I might have been just a teensy bit overzealous in my purchasing.  (sensing a theme here?)  Not to worry.  Corn freezes beautifully and easily, plus I’d recently run across a piece by a corn-obsessed columnist in The New York Times and was itching to try her cornbread.

Now, one might argue that a Southern girl has little to learn about cornbread from a New Yorker, but I’m the sort of Southern girl whose mama is from Brooklyn (which is to say, not a particularly authentic one), and the New Yorker in question mentioned browned butter, cheese, and buttermilk in her recipe.  Far be it from me to question her credentials.

And thanks to the buttermilk and the browned butter, this is the richest, most moist and crumbly cornbread I’ve ever eaten.  It’s the sort of cornbread that causes you to lick the tip of your finger and dab it around on your plate until you’ve collected and savored every last crumb.  It’s the sort of cornbread you sneak a pinch of whenever you walk past the kitchen, and that your boyfriend looks forward to having for breakfast almost as soon as he’s finished it with dinner.

It’s the sort of cornbread I’ll be making again and again.  Which, given the fifteen pints of recently frozen corn in my freezer, shouldn’t present a problem.

Brown Butter Cornbread
from Melissa Clark via The New York Times, 09.03.08
(serves 6-8)

1 c.  flour
1 c. stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 T. baking powder
½ t. kosher salt
1¼ c. sour cream or buttermilk
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 egg
3 T. sugar
¼ t. baking soda
1 cob cooked corn, kernels removed (about ¾ c.)
4 ounces (¾ c.) farmer cheese, crumbled
1 T. chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ c. unsalted butter (½ stick)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, oil, egg, sugar and baking soda. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ones until just combined. Fold in corn, cheese and thyme.

2) Melt butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, tilting pan to coat bottom and sides completely. Cook butter 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to color and smell nutty. Scrape batter into skillet; smooth surface with a rubber spatula.

3) Bake until bread is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

7 responses

  1. That is some beautiful cornbread. Definitely not traditional the way I grew up on, but it actually looks better…did I say that? Don’t tell my mom.

    We got the last of this season’s peaches at the farmers market today, but at least the apples are appearing now.

    September 22, 2008 at 12:34 am

  2. I love cornbread and this recipe sounds yummier than any other recipe I’ve seen for it.

    September 23, 2008 at 5:42 pm

  3. amy

    Yum!! I forgot all about Chris telling people about this blog. Glad I remembered!

    P.S. I hate your delicious pictures.

    September 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm

  4. Megan

    Bubs – Yes, I suppose I forgot to mention that this ain’t your mama’s cornbread, but it’s also not so far removed from cornbread as to be non-traditional.

    Teri – And it’s easy too!

    Amy – I’m glad you did too, and I’ll take your hate as a compliment. :-)

    September 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

  5. Teri N

    By far the most creative corn bread recipe I could find for this years Thanksgiving. Since I shop at the local co-op, not everything is available, so made a few substitutions. Instead of farmers cheese, I chose a local cow feta and used low-fat sour cream. Since we’re here in New Mexico, I had to add some fresh roasted green chili. Everyone loved it and I am sending the recipe off to my Texas relatives. Gorgeous pictures!! Thanks so much.

    November 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

  6. slamming cornbread here. my friends and i really enjoyed it the other night with butter beans and melt-in-your-mouth mushrooms.

    your blog is my new obsession, btw. thanks!

    December 24, 2008 at 1:48 am

  7. JBT

    I just made Melissa’s brown butter cornbread in the NYTimes. Different than this (taking to NY’s eve dinner party) – but have to try this one, too. Do you have any idea how I’d adjust the measurements for a 12″ cast iron skillet? I’m drooling. After all, I have almost all the ingredients. :)

    December 31, 2014 at 6:36 pm

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