01 November 2011

Eats: cornbread with barbecue

According to the avalanche of posts I noticed on facebook and twitter, you northeasterners got some snow this last weekend! I hear there was even a dusting in North Carolina, which kind of freaked me out because North Carolina and Tennessee typically have similar weather. And it is too early for snow! I mean, November only started today! Eastern seaboaders: I’m so sorry. So, so sorry. Here, let me comfort you with some homemade bread. And my crockpot. Because goodness knows when it’s snowing, it’s crockpot time.

For the bread? Well, this recipe intrigued me when I first saw it. Yeasted cornbread? Like... sandwich bread made out of cornbread? I’ve never been a huge cornbread fan, but the idea of having a grilled cheese or somesuch with a slice of cornbread sounded amazing. Plus, the recipe (which I actually followed, crazy I know) seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try!

First, let your little yeast guys wake up in some warm water. NOT HOT. If it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for them.

Then mix in the rest of the ingredients – flour, cornmeal, milk, butter, and sugar. (The source calls for milk powder, but you can just add one cup of milk instead of the “remaining one cup of water”.) Because I’m lazy, I just mashed it together with a spoon until they looked combined.

And again because I’m lazy... and privileged enough to have kitchen gadgets... I let it finish mixing using the dough hook on my stand mixer, then it let it knead for about five more minutes. It needed a bit of coaxing with the spoon – scraping the sides, or pushing it back down the dough hook – but eventually it was well-kneaded and ready to rise.

Here it is after rising once in the bowl:

And again after rising once in a greased loaf pan.

Yes, it has to rise twice. It is a yeasted cornbread, after all. But check out the rising action after it bakes:

Gorgeous! It even looks like the perfect blend of cornbread and sandwich bread! I was super excited to slice it up.

But when I sliced it, I realized it’s a bit more... crumbly than sandwich bread. I mean, moisture and fluffiness are both good things! But it doesn’t make for a very sturdy sandwich.

And speaking of sandwich... here’s what I thought would be super tasty in a cornbread sandwich: barbecue. Mmmm. Except we don’t have a smoker or anything, so I have to make do with my crockpot. You guys have done this before, right? It makes some of the most delicious barbecue-style pulled pork. And I’m a southerner, so I know what good barbecue is.

If you haven't tried this before, it is crazy easy to do. Just grab one of these (especially when they’re on sale):

Pork shoulder (often inexplicably called “butt”) also makes a delicious barbecue, but I find the loin is usually less expensive. If it's a large one like this, I use a couple of pounds for crockpot barbecue, and slice up the rest (pre-cooked) into filets for Mr. P to grill another time. You can use the whole pork loin if it's smaller, or if you just love shredded pork!

To season it, sprinkle it with your favorite seasoning blend. I use a Cajun blend that has salt, garlic powder, black and red pepper, and paprika, and coat both sides.

Sometimes I stop with the seasoning there to create plain (but delicious) pulled pork to put in tacos or fried rice. But for barbecue, I smear store-bought barbecue sauce over it.

Annnnnd turn the crockpot on low for six to eight hours. After that it’ll be falling apart and super easy to shred and your house will smell like pork heaven. Not heaven for pork. Heaven for people who think pork is delicious.

Anyway, this is when you add the most important part:

It's called Liquid Smoke, and you can find it in the marinade aisle. It's essentially water that smoke has passed through, and while I don't understand how that's not carcinogenic, it's apparently safe. At least no less safe than, you know, actual fire-cooked meat. In any case, just a few shakes is all you need to stir in. And please note that you add it after cooking – I have found it creates a weird flavor if it cooks with the pork. Probably those non-carcinogens becoming all “I'MMA MESS YOU UP” compounds.

But back to the cornbread. I hoped that toasting it would cause it to firm up a bit, but no such luck. So no barbecue sandwiches… but under a pile of barbecue? Still delicious! And to make the quintessential beans-and-cornbread meal, we had it with lima beans... because Mr. P only like beans that are green. I'd make fun of his somewhat childish food quirks except I ordered a macaroni-and-cheese-burger this weekend.

I’m not an expert enough bread-baker to understand why it’s still crumbly. Perhaps letting it rise for less time would help? I followed the directions at the source, who was concerned it didn't rise enough, so who knows. Either way, my dream of a cornbread grilled cheese remains unfulfilled. But this still went fantastically well with the barbecue pork – and would be delightful on the next day you’re snowed in and have the time to wait for bread to rise!


Shanna said...

Now, I'm not much of a bread baker [although I did used to own a bread machine before it fizzled out], but this recipe looks WONDERFUL! I might have to talk Rachel into making it for me. I have no clue why homemade bread tends to fall apart; I've had that happen to me with regular white bread. Maybe it's a gluten thing?

Rachel said...

Sarah, this looks delicious! There are two possibilities for the crumbly texture: Too much flour or too much rise time the second time you let it rise. Make sure you punch it down thoroughly after the first rise as well, and that should help get all of those air bubbles out.

Tina said...

I'm heading into the kitchen now... have Trolinger's BBQ to get out of the freezer and crock pot pinto beans I cooked yesterday (and which Ron would eat every meal anyway...)Adding this bread ought to make us a good supper. The texture thing should be no problem - for a man who eschews casseroles, Ron will pile beans on his cornbread every time... Thanks for the kick-start!