For years I experimented with cornbread recipes but could never seem to find perfection. Not even close. My efforts ranged from raw-in-the-middle (I have come a long way from that particular low point) to sawdust-dry.
I could never work out what to add… Corn kernels? Creamed corn? Cheese? Scallions? I tried them all, but never settled on a favorite combo. For a while I tossed in the towel, and just bought Jiffy cornbread mixes whenever I served chili. They’re really quite adequate.
Then, last Thanksgiving, I discovered Melissa Clark’s near-perfect version in the New York Times. This is hands-down the best cornbread on the planet. It’s simple, moist, flavorful, and not too sweet.
Oh, and the the presentation in the skillet is pretty nifty. Bonus: Baking cornbread in a skillet creates a particularly happy crunchy buttery crust.
I’ve made it a half-dozen times this year and barely tweaked her recipe (she likes to use whole wheat flour – I go with all white flour). But I also wanted to share an awesome little companion to the bread, a lovely Bourbon Maple Pecan Butter that makes it even better.
One of the best bits of having named my blog Bourbon and Brown Sugar is that people turn up at the house bearing bottles of bourbon and cookbooks titled Bourbon and Bacon. (My life rocks)
Thumbing through this gem of a cookbook, stuffed with fabulous cocktails and dozens of ways to use bourbon and bacon in various foodstuffs, I found a recipe for a pecan bourbon butter. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make it ever since.
Thus the inspiration for the Bourbon Maple Pecan Butter to slather on this perfect cornbread. It’s a ridiculously over-the-top garnish… But my cornbread will likely never be plain again.
The wonderful thing is, it only takes a couple of minutes to whip up (once you soften that butter). Just mix finely chopped pecans, maple syrup, and a touch of bourbon into softened butter.
I see it has a future on French Toast next weekend. Or perhaps on biscuits… or just nice thick toast… or perhaps just plain? With a spoon?
It’s that good…
Happy Wednesday all!
Buttermilk Brown Butter Cornbread with Bourbon Maple Pecan Butter
The cornbread is adapted, just barely, from Melissa Clark's Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread from the New York Times. The butter is inspired from a recipe in the Bourbon and Bacon cookbook.
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) salted butter
- ½ cup real maple syrup
- 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- ¼ cup (one stick) softened butter.
For the Cornbread:
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- On the stovetop, in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan to lightly coat sides and bottom, until the foam subsides and the butter turns deep brown. (Watch carefully to make sure it does not burn.)
- Pour brown butter into a large bowl. (Do not wipe out the pan.)
- Whisk the maple syrup into the butter, then whisk in buttermilk. The mixture should be cool to the touch; if not, let cool before whisking in the eggs.
- Then whisk in the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- If the skillet is no longer hot (cast iron retains heat longer than other metals), reheat it briefly on the stove for a few minutes. Scrape batter back into it. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into it emerges clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Stir pecans, maple syrup, and bourbon into softened butter until combined — I used a fork to sort of mash the pecans into the softened butter. Spoon into a small crock or bowl to serve with the cornbread.