Thursday, November 18, 2010

Amy Cotler: Skillet Corn Bread

This post first appeared at The Locavore Way, author Amy Cotler's blog.

No excuses! Burgeoning Winter and Holiday Farmers Markets make it convenient for you to include fabulous farm fresh foods in your winter feasts, starting with Thanksgiving. See below: To find a market near you and for this weekend’s Berkshire Holiday Markets.

I’m a sucker for warm cornbread with a butter crisp crust. Ingredients? The aromatic cornmeal was brought home in a brown sack as hard Flint corn kernels from Heritage Valley Grain CSA, then ground by Richard Bourdon at Berkshire Mountain bakery. The eggs came from my neighbor, Sean Stanton, at North Plain Farm, and the milk’s from High Lawn Farm’s Jersey cows, with their long upswept lashes.

Accompaniments: Serve with smoky black beans, again from the CSA, and defrosted tomatillo salsa from my own crop.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/3 cups milk
1 cup plain yogurt
4 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups coarse cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 slightly rounded teaspoon kosher salt

1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a 10,11 or 12 inch cast iron skillet. Tilt the pan so that the butter comes at least halfway up the sides all around. Let it cool.
2. Combine the wet ingredients in one bowl, whisking them together thoroughly. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl and whisk to combine. Stir most of the cooled butter into the wet mixture, then immediately mix the wet mixture into the dry. Stir just until combined.
3-Heat the pan with the remaining butter in it until very hot. Pour the batter into the pan, scraping it out with the spatula if needed. Keep the heat on high for 2-3 minutes to sear the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the back of the oven and cook until very dark but not black, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

A note on sourcing local ingredients

Sure, each bite of this cornbread conjured good memories of sourcing its ingredients. That feels good, but not good enough get sanctimonious about it. Striving too much do it can stop anyone flat, so: Just do your best. Local diary products are widely available and regional cornmeal can sometimes be found with a little foraging. Even I gave up on the butter.

A longtime advocate of local eating, Amy Cotler is the author of The Locavore Way and founding director of Berkshire Grown, a food initiative that received international recognition as a model for local food advocacy. She now consults, teaches, and lectures on food and farm-to-table issues. She worked as the Web food forum host for The New York Times, and her food articles have been published in numerous periodicals, including Fine Cooking, Kitchen Garden, Cook’s, Family Fun, Self, Gastronomique, and Orion. Her five cookbooks include The Secret Garden Cookbook, My Little House Cookbook, and Fresh From the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook, which is available free online. Amy has developed close to 1,000 recipes, including many for the revision of The Joy of Cooking. She’s taught at the Institute for Culinary Education and the Culinary Institute of America, where she also researched and wrote teaching text for their professional cookbook. She lives in Western Massachusetts. Reach her at

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