More “Quarantine Life” comfort food.
Here’s a great, easy, super-tasty cornbread recipe. It’s an ever-so-slightly modified version of the cornbread from the famous Boston restaurant Durgin Park, which sadly closed in 2019. Comfort food doesn’t get better than this.
- 1/4 cup sugar, sifted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
For baking: either an 8x12x2 inch baking pan, or a 10-inch cast iron skillet (at least 1 1/2 inches deep).
Preheat the over to 400 degrees F. If you are using a cast-iron skillet, place it in the oven to preheat it as well.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl for 45 seconds, then sift in the sugar (or just pour in if you pre-sifted it) and stir until well mixed, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the baking powder and salt, and stir to ensure even distribution. Add the egg/sugar mixture to the flour mixture and stir to mix (it will be dry).
Mix in the melted butter, then the milk.
Add the cornmeal, and beat just enough to mix it — it will be a thick, wet batter with lumps in it.
Pour batter into the baking pan or skillet, and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (the top will start to brown).
Serve hot, warm or room temperature. Seriously, though: serve it hot, with plenty of butter nearby.
Notes and tips:
- I really like using a cast-iron skillet for this. It gives the cornbread a nice crust. But preheating the skillet is really important! If you don’t preheat it, then for the first 5 minutes your cornbread is in the oven only the top of it will be baking. Take the skillet out of the oven to pour the batter in; you don’t want to leave your oven door open that long.
- This is a classic example of something you see often in recipes: mix the dry ingredients together, and the wet ingredients together, then combine them. The reason for doing this is simple: even distribution. You don’t want a salty part of your cornbread and a non-salty part; you want it nice and consistent.
- Sifting is optional, but it does help give you a better consistency. You don’t need to buy a sifter though; you can just use a fine-mesh strainer. Lightly shake or tap the strainer to work the ingredients through.
- The test for whether you’ve beaten your eggs enough: stick a fork into the eggs and lift it straight up. If the egg comes off the fork in a nice consistent flow, you’re done. If it falls off in blobs, keep beating. Expect it to take about 45-60 seconds.
- For a variation: try reducing the all-purpose flour to 1 1/2 cups, and adding 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour. You might need to add a bit more milk to get the batter to the right consistency.
- The original recipe calls for adding the melted butter and milk at the same time, but my experience has shown me that using cold milk will cause the butter to instantly seize up and it becomes much more difficult to get it thoroughly mixed in. Bringing the milk up to room temperature helps a lot; but what I’ve found helps more is mixing in the butter first, then adding the milk.
Sorry to hear that Durgin Park has also closed. After binge listening to, especially the early ones, Spenser mysteries, Google told me that Jake Wirth’s and Locke Ober have also closed. I made my first order with e-bay and now have a Jake Wirth’s ashtray in memoriam–to be used as a soap dish.
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