Smoked Burnt Sugar Beet Cornbread – WSJ

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MARTIN RAMIN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, FOOD STYLING BY KIM RAMIN

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This recipe from North Carolina-based cultural curator Gabrielle Eitienne gets its richness from buttermilk – “full of fat, don’t play with me,” Carter advised. She cooks her beets in a smoker, but if you don’t have one, oven roasting works too. A hint of bourbon brings a nice woody flavor.

MARTIN RAMIN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, FOOD STYLING BY KIM RAMIN

Ingredients

  • Hickory smoking chips or ½ cup bourbon
  • 2 large beets
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • ½ cup molasses or maple syrup, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 1 cup stone ground or finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • 1½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • Flaky salt

directions

  1. Soak the chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Set the smoker to 225 degrees. Peel and deeply mark the beets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook beets in a smoker until tender with a fork, 2 hours. Or, wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until tender, 1 hour. Let cool.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the cooled beets with the molasses and paprika. (For the oven-roasted version, add bourbon.) Once smooth, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until browned and smelling nutty. Remove from fire. Pour half the butter into the beet mixture, mix and let cool.
  4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Combine buttermilk and eggs with beet mixture. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until well blended.
  5. Place the pan with the rest of the butter over medium heat. Pour the dough. Stir the butter around the sides of the pan and begin cooking on the stovetop, 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the center rises completely and is firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. A butter knife should come out clean. Finish with a drizzle of molasses and a pinch of flaky salt.

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