By The Gentleman
I was lucky enough to go to America last year and while I was there, obviously, I indulged in as much American food as I possibly could. I gorged myself on 99c pizza slices, key lime pie, bagels, Southern-style biscuits, fried chicken and waffles and deep fried pork chops. By the end of the trip The Lady was pretty sick of seeing my latest food snaps. Disappointingly what I didn’t get to try was cornbread. There was just too much to see and to do and to eat that I couldn’t fit it all in (time wise and in my belly). The trip to America did inspire me to explore American cooking and cornbread was pretty much the first thing I tried to make…even though I don’t like corn. Yes I’m sorry I have to admit it and any cornbread purists reading this may start screaming at the screen, because I don’t actually like corn I only use cornmeal and no actual corn kernels. Shock horror I know. Stay with me though because this is some tasty boozy cornbread with a decadent butter.
Bourbon Cornbread adapted from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ Cookbook
1 cup cornmeal (or where I come from polenta)
1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carb soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (I used 3 medium ones)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Boom!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (about 250g)
2 tbs Bulleit Bourbon
1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease a 9-by-9 inch square pan or an 8-inch cast-iron pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour sugar, baking soda and salt.
3. In another large bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk and butter. Add the bourbon then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just incorporated. Make sure you get all the little pockets of flour mixed in, flour can be crafty and decide to stay dry and clumped together. The devils.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
5. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.
While your bourbon cornbread is in the oven it is time to make the ‘double’ part of this double bourbon cornbread, the bourbon butter. Oh my god this butter was deadly, it just tasted and smelt so good. You can definitely adjust the levels of molasses and bourbon depending on whether you want a sweeter butter or one with a really nice kick. I thought this measure was spot on because the cornbread already has a bit of sweetness and I didn’t want the butter to go overboard.
2 1/2 tbs butter room temperature
3 teaspoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon Bulleit Bourbon
1. Get your room temperature butter and chop it into cubes. Place the cubes in the bottom of a stick mixer or a bowl.
2. Add the molasses and the bourbon. Even though it says 3 teaspoons of molasses, molasses is a sticky thing so you don’t get the full 3 teaspoons.
3. With your stick mixer or electric hand mixer whizz the butter until it is incorporated with the molasses and bourbon. Depending on how cold your butter is this could take a minute or a bit longer. You’ll know though because the butter takes on this light caramel sort of colour and goes really creamy and smooth.
Cornbread was my first attempt at bringing Southern cooking way down South to Australia and while at first everyone I’ve made it for has been skeptical, like me they have all come to love this staple BBQ side. The cornmeal (or polenta in my case) gives the bread this delightful graininess and texture that is unlike anything else I’ve really eaten. The bread has this very cakey density and I love that it gets crispy on the outside but still a bit moist in the middle. It also smells divine and tastes just as good as either a side with dinner or toasted the next morning for breakfast or both! I’m enjoying cornbread so much that I’m looking at getting a cast-iron skillet just to make it so I can try and make it even more authentic Southern-style (sans kernels of course).
I didn’t think the bourbon in the cornbread really changed the flavour profile too much. It maybe toned down some of the sweetness and just added to the aroma. I think next time I’d like to maybe soak the cornmeal or the sugar in the bourbon to see if it gets a more intense flavour. The butter though. Wow. That is like next level cornbreading right there. I don’t think I can go back to plain butter after this. The molasses gives the butter this delicious sweetness and caramel sort of smell but the bourbon works to balance the sweetness and gives the butter this great aftertaste, kind of tangy, kind of boozy. This is all topped off by the butter just doing it’s thing, being creamy and tasty. I seriously need to be alone with this butter and a whole load of cornbread.Warm cornbread plus this butter is just….sorry I kind of drooled over the keyboard a little bit thinking about it again. The butter melts and it seeps into the cornbread, fusing the flavours together to give you something that is so goddamn good.
Usually when you taste something that is amazing you’ll realise it has butter in it or it was cooked in butter. Butter just makes stuff awesome. In this case though, the butter is awesome because it has booze in it! Seriously, no kidding next level butter is happening right here. Once you’ve made this butter, which takes no time at all, you’ll realise what you’ve been missing out on. Pair this butter with cornbread and you’ve got a classic boozefood combination that you need in your life. Now go on and get some South in your mouth!