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Cornbread

Originally uploaded by ted_major

I’ve blogged previously that the corn pone is the ne plus ultra of cornbread, and it is. Nonetheless, there is a place in the world for corn muffins. They’re sweeter and fluffier, and they’re better as leftovers. You will need cast iron muffin tins–ask your grandmother or cruise yard sales and thrift stores. Visit antique stores as a last (and costly) resort. They’re critical, though, so do what you must: you’ll need 2, or better yet, 3 of them.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (you can’t go wrong with Pollard’s or other fine, stone-ground meal)
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk (you may need to add a little more to get a smooth consistency)
  • 3/4 cup oil or shortening

Preheat oven to 425F. When the oven is hot, put the muffin pans in while you mix the batter. Combine the dry ingredients, then mix eggs, oil, and milk, and stir into the batter. Take the muffin pans out (one at a time), grease lightly (cooking spray works well) and put a tablespoon or two of batter into the pans. Repeat with other muffin pans in turn. Bake until golden brown, about 20 mins. Makes 12-18 muffins.

I’ve only had a very few outstanding sandwiches in my life–the Vietnamese grilled pork on baguette at Pho Que Huong on Green Springs, and the Cuban steak sandwich from Little Miami in Lake City, Florida–and this is one of them. The combination of fresh bread, salad, yogurt, feta, and meat is sublime. As an added bonus, the leftover spread can be thinned with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and some lemon juice to make a great salad dressing for the remaining romaine and feta.

For the spread:

  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)
  • 3 heaping Tbs Greek-style yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the sandwich:

  • 4 pita breads
  • 4 large leaves romaine lettuce, torn in half
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, coarse chiffonade
  • Sliced meat (we used steak, but grilled pork would also be good)

Combine all spread ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and mix with a fork. In each pita, put a schmear of spread, then add a couple of slices of meat, some cucumber, mint, and a lettuce leaf. Yum! (I’ve read that a couple of slices of tomato and red onion make a fine vegetarian version, but haven’t confirmed.)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 small celery stalk, chopped coarsely
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 250F. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, enameled cast-iron ditch oven over medium heat. Add chicken breast-side down, then add vegetables and herbs. Cook about 5 minutes until browned, then turn chicken breast-side up and cook about 7 minutes more until chicken and vegetables are browned. Put lid on dutch oven and place in oven until done, about another hour and 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board, then strain juices, adding lemon to taste. Serve chicken au jus.