At Salare, Edouardo Jordan makes cornbread with cornmeal from Nash’s Organic Produce in Sequim, and whey instead of buttermilk. At Nue, Chris Cvetkovich tops his cornbread with toasted coconut.
HOECAKES. That was the name European settlers gave to the thin, sturdy, unleavened corn cakes they learned to make from Native Americans using little more than cornmeal, water, fat and perhaps some salt. Since then, cornbread recipes have evolved and multiplied. Here are two from local restaurants that couldn’t be more different, or more delicious.
Edouardo Jordan says he’s spent years perfecting his cornbread. Initially he tried to do a flour-free version, but the result was too dense and heavy. A blend of fine and coarse cornmeal, with a little flour to keep it light, gave him the texture he was after. His cornmeal of choice, from Nash’s Organic Produce in Sequim, is available at farmers markets in Seattle year-round and worth seeking out. Because Salare makes its own yogurt, they have a lot of whey on hand. They use it in place of buttermilk. “The whey gives it an airy effect, as buttermilk can be heavy, yet still brings that slight tang to the party.” Finish it as they do at Salare, brushed with local honey and melted butter.
Serves 8 to 10
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2/3 cup (94 grams) coarse-grind cornmeal
½ cup (72 grams) fine or medium-grind cornmeal
1 cup (140 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (230 grams) whey or buttermilk
2/3 cup (145 grams) grapeseed or other neutral oil
1. Place seasoned cast-iron corn pans or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in a 350-degree F oven to heat.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a stainless-steel bowl. Make sure to break up the brown sugar.
3. Whisk together buttermilk, oil and egg.
4. With a rubber spatula, fold the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture, until there are no dry lumps.
5. Spoon or pipe the batter into the cavities of the corn pan, or pour into the skillet.
6. Bake on convection mode about 11 minutes (if using corn pans) or 18 to 20 minutes (if using skillet), or until the cornbread is lightly golden brown on top. Bake slightly longer if not using a convection oven.
Nue’s Pineapple Coconut Cornbread
Chris Cvetkovich originally intended this cornbread as an accompaniment to Nue’s Trinidad Goat Curry, a dish “loosely based on one I ate, believe it or not, on the street in the Red Light District of San Nicolas, Aruba.” The street curry was served with pineapple and coconut rice, “but rice seemed a little too common, so we played around with a cornbread version of the same flavors.” Now guests come in just for this sweet, moist, flagrantly rich cornbread served smothered in toasted coconut.
Serves 8 to 10
1 cup all-purpose flour
11/8 cup medium-grind cornmeal
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups frozen corn, thawed (or canned corn, drained)
1 packed cup crushed canned pineapple, drained
¼ cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Shredded unsweetened coconut to garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour a 2-quart baking dish.
3. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. Beat butter on high. Add eggs; beat well.
5. Beat in flour mixture on low speed just until combined.
6. Stir in corn, drained pineapple, creme fraiche and grated cheese.
7. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
8. Pile a generous amount of shredded coconut on top and bake at 400 degrees F for several additional minutes to lightly toast the coconut.