Friday, April 15, 2016

Corn Sticks - Playing with a Kitchen Gadget

I had made a chicken stew with a Mexican flair:  chunks of chicken thighs with diced tomatoes, carrots, onions, black olives, black beans, chicken broth, and garlic, which was spiced with cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and pepper.  It was all cooked in one big pan over a very slow fire and the flavors came together into a fragrant blend.

For one breakfast it was heated and put in a burrito-size flour tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa (mild, because I am a wimp), and shredded Jack cheese.  But for this particular dinner I offered up a bowl full of hot stew topped with shredded Cheddar cheese.  I wanted something like corn bread to go with it.

One of the lovely parts of cornbread is the crispy crust.  I realized that there was no better way to maximize that crust than to make corn sticks in my old, cast iron corn stick pan.

My inherited beauty
It is lovely.  The individual sticks look like ears of corn and, because you put the batter into the cups when the pan is very hot, even the part touching the pan turns out crispy.

My old friend, Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, came in handy for the right recipe.

In the section called "Quick Breads" I found a recipe called "Canary Corn Sticks"  (page 70).

Canary Corn Sticks
from Ohio

Beat 1 egg.

Beat in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
             1/2 tsp soda
             1/2 cup sifted Gold Medal flour
             1 1/2 cups corn meal
             1 tsp. sugar
             3 tsp. baking powder
             1 tsp. salt
             1/4 cup soft shortening

Pour or spoon into buttered hot square pan, muffin cups, or corn stick pans (see Betty's notes, below).  Bake just until set.  Serve piping hot with butter.  

Temperature:  450 degrees F (hot oven).

Time: Bake 10 to 15 minutes for corn sticks.  

Betty's Notes

Beat egg.  Beat in with rotary beater milk, dry ingredients, soft shortening (bacon fat is good). Beat just until smooth.

Generously butter 12 corn stick pans ... Heat in oven while mixing batter.

Pour batter into hot pans until almost full.

My Notes

I keep dried, sweet cream buttermilk around so I reconstituted it with water and mixed it into the beaten egg in a big bowl.  Then I mixed the dry ingredients together in another bowl until they were well mixed.

Once the dry and wet ingredients were put into the same bowl, I used a vegetable shortening and cut it through the mixture while stirring.  This still left small bits of shortening in the batter.

The corn stick pan was oiled (not buttered) and, when removed from the oven, was very hot and the oil was smoking a little.  The batter sizzled when I spooned it in.

First batch cooked.
After 10 minutes they were ready.  I made a second batch, too, which looked better than the first.

Second batch, overfilled.
But they turned out to be beautiful!
The Verdict

The first batch wasn't as fluffy as the second and had holes in it.  I think the oil on the pan fried the batter whereas in the second batch, it just kept the pan from being sticky.  But still they were both tasty!

I love the color assortment.
They were an excellent accompaniment to the stew in both flavor and having a crispy crust.  Some were soaked and dunked in the stew, others were buttered and eaten without the stew on them.  The corn taste made up for the lack of corn kernels I wanted to put in the stew but didn't have handy.


I ate more than this one stick.

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