The “hot water” in the name is important—it’s the key to the handiest parts of the recipe. Unlike in skillet-baked styles of cornbread that can often take 45 minutes or more to bake through, here the hot water acts as a fast-forward button, hydrating the cornmeal and speeding its cooking along, so that the mini cornbreads can finish cooking as they crisp up in the pan, without having to get the oven involved. You can eat the cornbread as-is for breakfast, maybe with just a little maple or honey (or, best of all, according to Richards, cane syrup). Stir in herbs or chopped, cooked shrimp or bacon. Serve it as a side at dinner, along with greens or saucy meats like pot roast. And, Richards says, he might like them even better reheated in a skillet the next day, with a little ground coffee and spices or sliced jalapeño sizzling in the butter first.
Adapted slightly from Soul: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes (Southern Living, 2018). —Genius Recipes
Watch This Recipe
Todd Richards’ Hot Water Cornbread
2 1/2 cups
(20 ounces) water
(about 8 1/2 ounces) plain yellow cornmeal (finely ground, not medium or coarse)
freshly grated nutmeg
cayenne pepper (or less if you’d like it less spicy)
popcorn kernels, popped
(about 6 ounces) buttermilk, preferably whole
(4 ounces) vegetable oil
(about 2 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
In This Recipe
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
Stir together the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water, and stir until combined. Let stand 5 minutes.
Fold the popped corn kernels and buttermilk into the cornmeal mixture. Let stand 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. With floured hands, shape 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cornmeal mixture into a 2 1/2-inch round, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining cornmeal mixture to make about 20 pieces. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.