Do people who cook do it for attention?
It’s a surprising question, one I hadn’t really considered until I wrote that sentence. But, I mean, c’mon. You can’t be a fan of this blog and ignore the fact that, well, I’m kind of needy. With all of my videos, comic book posts, and my face always in the banner, you wouldn’t exactly call me a shrinking violet.
Ignoring all of that, though, and looking only at the food: do I cook to get attention? Do other people cook to get attention? The comedian Mark Maron wrote a funny essay about that once for Saveur (here’s a link). I love this quote from it: “The idea that I could do something giving and seemingly selfless and still be the center of attention seemed magical.”
I bring all of this up, here, because yesterday I attended a BBQ with many talented people in attendance and I was asked to bring a side. If I were making my own BBQ dinner, and cooking just for myself, I might make a side like potato salad or coleslaw. But this was different, I wanted a side that would dazzle–something that people would talk about for years. Naturally, I turned to Ina.
Her cornbread recipe produces a cornbread that gets you attention. For starters, it begins with two sticks of melted butter:
The dry ingredients–and this is controversial, I’ll concede–includes 1/4 cup sugar:
When you combine the wet ingredients (eggs, milk and that melted butter) into the dry, you get a thick batter:
But here’s where Ina really goes bonkers; look what she has you add to it:
That would be 8 ounces shredded cheddar, a bunch of chopped scallions and 3 minced jalapeños. You stir that in, let it rest 20 minutes, and then into a pan it goes, with more cheddar and scallions sprinkled on top:
35 minutes later, you’ve got some pretty extreme cornbread.
As for how it tasted, despite the 1/4 cup sugar, it’s a mostly savory affair. The jalapeños that I used didn’t have enough heat to get noticed, but the sharp cheddar certainly packed a punch. Here’s my friend John, who invited me to the BBQ, modeling the cornbread and giving it (and me) the attention we craved:
So for you attention whores out there, you now have your cornbread recipe. If you’re shy, just use the boxed stuff.
Recipe: Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread
Summary: Flavor-packed cornbread from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
- 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish (3 scallions)
- 3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeño peppers (2 to 3 peppers)
- Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl (this is best done with a whisk). In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter (you can use the same whisk). With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions, and jalapeños, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 X 2-inch baking pan with a little more butter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 35 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12