Come this February, you can expect to see plenty of alternative and flavourful flours, meals, oats, and other cereal grains that are used more widely in different parts of the world. Grains are the perfect subject for next month’s ingredient spotlight because they are exactly the kind of good that is stored away for the sparsest months, along with long-keeping sugar products like honey and molasses. Take for example sugar cream pie, a popular treat in pockets of North America and western Europe, which was traditionally made when there was nothing left to fill pies with except for flour, butter, sugar, salt, and cream.
The first of the cereal grains to hit our kitchen was a bag of coarsely ground and beautifully aromatic cornmeal from a local mill. And while the last thing I wished to do was quibble about what ‘real’ cornbread is (Sean Brock knows), I could not resist the opportunity to butter up a cast iron skillet.
Just for fun, the first choice was a middle-of-the-pack recipe, courtesy of Alex Guarnaschelli, that consists of a 50/50 blend of cornmeal and all purpose flour, a moderate amount of sugar, buttermilk, whole milk, and melted butter. The batter is a breeze to make and the sound of it hitting the fiercely hot skillet has to be heard to be appreciated. The bread was delicious warm out of the oven with the sweet, unobstructed flavour of the cornmeal shining though, a sign that it can only get better from here.