Beth Kirby of Local Milk carries her Southern heritage -- and the ingredients, dishes, and recipes that come with it -- with her wherever she goes. Every other Monday, that place is here.
Today: Two quick cornbreads -- one vegetarian, one not -- good enough to keep the Southern tradition alive.
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This is a tale of two cornbreads: one vegetarian, one most decidedly not. One that tastes of nostalgia, one entirely new. Today I'm giving you the venerable southern staple two ways: cultured coconut milk cornbread, and buttermilk bacon grease cornbread. And there’s room enough in the cornbread world for the both of them. And this is coming from me, a girl who takes the fine tradition of buttermilk and bacon grease pretty seriously.
When I discovered cultured coconut milk as a substitute for buttermilk I was ecstatic; it’s moist and tart and makes for excellent baking. Is it the same as buttermilk? No. Is it wonderful? Yes.
By substituting coconut oil for the bacon grease and the cultured coconut milk for the buttermilk, you'll make a delicious cornbread that stands on its own. It isn’t trying to imitate anything; it’s just a wonderful incarnation of the tradition.
On the other hand, you have the cornbread I grew up on, the one that I never saw a meal at my grandmother’s house without. I still love to tear it up and eat it out of a glass of milk with a spoon. This cornmeal is an homage to the hogs and dairy cows that have sustained the South for generations. It makes use of things that some people might discard, and by doing so, it honors those animals.
So no matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, whip up some of this cornbread. It takes under half an hour from bowl to table and involves only a handful of ingredients. And if you have some left over, don’t miss out on eating it out of a glass of milk with a spoon like my grandmother taught me to do.
1 1/4 cups cornmeal, blue or yellow 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 3 tablespoons cold pressed coconut oil, plus extra for oiling the pan 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup cultured coconut milk
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).