Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Oklahoma III - Get out the skillet, it's time to make cornbread!

In my last post, I mentioned that Oklahoma has an official state meal (see the state info below for exactly what that is).  But because I don't have the time, money or dietary needs to make or write about such a meal, I'm cherry-picking specific recipes.  Last time I did fried okra by Georgia transplant Trisha Yearwood.  For this next post, I turn to a California girl who like Yearwood also now calls both Oklahoma and the Food Network home.

Official Name: State of Oklahoma
State Nicknames: The Sooner State
Admission to the US: November 16, 1907 (#46)
Capital: Oklahoma City (largest)
Other Important Cities: Tulsa (2nd largest), Norman (3rd largest), Broken Arrow (4th largest)
Region: Southwest, South, West; West South Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCorn Bread & BBQBison
Bordered by: Kansas (north), Missouri (northeast), Arkansas (east), Texas & the Red River (south), New Mexico (west), Colorado (northwest)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: buffalo (animal), milk (beverage), white bass (fish), raccoon (furbearer animal), strawberry (fruit), white-tail deer (game animal), wild turkey (game bird), honeybee (insect - for the honey), watermelon (vegetable); "Fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas" (meal - quoted from
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Southern foods (qv, Official State Meal), sometimes with a Western or Southwestern flavor; Native American (specifically Cherokee) foods

Ree Drummond, star of The Pioneer Woman TV show, is originally from Oklahoma.  However, she spent many years traveling and living in Los Angeles (and meeting her husband in Chicago).  Now back in Oklahoma, she has turned out not just a TV show but a cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks - all from a blog (yes, a blogger hits it big!), The Pioneer Woman.  The blog wasn't originally about food but ranch life and homeschooling.  But one recipe must have led to another...

For the other recipe I tackled from the Official State Meal of Oklahoma™, I use Drummond's cast-iron skillet cornbread recipe, on page 102 of her cookbook.  I didn't make the pinto beans that she pairs them with - no time.  But I did zhuzh up her cornbread, following her recommendations no less: just Southwestern-ize it with chopped jalapeños!

The Recipe: Skillet Cornbread

For Drummond's cornbread you will need the following, most of which I had on hand:

* yellow corn meal (I used up just about all of what I had left with this recipe. Note to self: buy more)
* all-purpose flour
* baking powder
* salt
* baking soda
* milk (had run out of this so needed to pick some up)
* buttermilk (this I did have on hand, but in this case I had the powdered kind that you mix up with water.  My sister bought some of this over Christmas when she was visiting and had to leave it behind because it must be refrigerated.  At least I don't have to buy more buttermilk now)
* egg
* shortening
* jalapeños (I bought a few at the H Mart for less than 50¢)

Though Drummond doesn't make this suggestion, I did shred a little leftover cheddar cheese and throw that in.

Throw together the cornmeal, salt, flour and baking powder in a large bowl.

Mix it all together.

In a separate bowl (or a large measuring cup), put in the buttermilk.  In this case, I put a four tablespoons of the buttermilk powder...

...and then added a cup of water, to reconstitute a cup of buttermilk.

Yes it is frustratingly lumpy, so you must smoosh them apart.

Next add the milk.

And then add an egg and mix.

Mix in some baking soda with the buttermilk mixture.

Next add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients...

...and mix with a fork until just blended.

Don't overmix this stuff.

Next, melt some shortening in the microwave...

...and mix into the batter, again just until blended.

Time to chop up the jalapeños and add them to the batter.  I added two though Drummond suggests chopping one up and adding it.

I would've added the chiles, seeds and all, but most people will probably want to seed them first.

Mince the chiles and add to the batter.

Again, yes I added cheddar cheese, about a handful.

Melt a few more tablespoons of shortening in a cast-iron skillet, moving around until coated.

Pour the batter into the skillet, spread around and let cook on top of the stove for one minute.

Then put the skillet into a preheated 450° oven for about 25 minutes

Cut and serve, preferably while still hot or only a little cooled.

The cornbread I typically find comes in two categories: savory and crumbly (Southern style) and sweet, moist and cake-like (Northern, or Yankee style.  I personally have never really enjoyed this kind).  This is a third kind: savory and soft.  In retrospect, I haven't really eaten Southwestern style cornbread all that much before.  I'm thinking I like this one more than either of our "Back East" style cornbreads, Southern or Northern.  The flavor of the jalapeños jump out amid the soft cornbread, and it all is just delicious.  Definitely another keeper of a recipe.

- - - - -

Westward ho!  This cornbread was our Oklahoma finale (last musical joke, I promise).  We continue from the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest for our next state, exploring hazelnuts, salmon and all - okay just a smidgen - that Portland's food trucks have to offer in Oregon.


Cherokee Nation.  "More About Cherokee Cooking".  The Official Site of the Cherokee Nation, 2011.  Copyright 2011 the Cherokee Nation, All Rights Reserved.

Cherokee Nation.  "Wild Onions and Scrambled Eggs".   The Official Site of the Cherokee Nation, 2011.  Copyright 2011 the Cherokee Nation, All Rights Reserved.

Drummond, Ree.  The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.  Willliam Morrow: New York, 2009.

Lee, Hilde Gabriel.  Taste of the States: A Food History of America.  Howell Press: Charlottesville, VA, 1992.  Quoted on the Food Timeline State Foods website.  "Oklahoma State Symbols, Songs and Emblems".  Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Yearwood, Trisha, with Gwen Yearwood and Beth Yearwood Bernard. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen: Recipes from My Family to YoursClarkson Potter: New York, 2008.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Oklahoma" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Oklahoma".