Weeknight Pork & Bean Soup with Cornbread Croutons

This rustic soup was described as a “delicious cross between baked beans and tomato soup.” It was quick to prepare and very flavorful. We ate it over rice, like a chili.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I increased the onions and garlic and used freshly made cornbread instead of a corn muffin for the croutons. We ate it with green salad and warm cornbread on the side. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 7 slices (9-10 ounces) thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 15-ounce cans pink beans with their liquid
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade Turkey Stock)
  • coarse salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • chopped scallions, for garnish, optional
  • rice for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon strips over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the crispy bacon to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the saucepan.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the fat in the saucepan and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and maple syrup and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the beans and their liquid and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the stock and bacon strips, season lightly with salt and cayenne pepper and simmer the soup over moderate heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, spread the cornbread cubes on a small baking sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are golden and crisp. Let the croutons cool slightly.
  8. Ladle the soup into deep bowls, garnish with the cornbread croutons and chopped scallions, as desired, and serve. (Serve over rice, if desired.)

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Southern Cornbread Dressing

Okay… back to my belated Thanksgiving feast posts…

I struggle selecting a “stuffing” for our Thanksgiving Menu. This version was simple and perfect. I loved that it was a traditional Southern recipe and that it incorporated an unsweetened cast iron skillet cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Kim Severson. I used medium grind cornmeal. The cornbread is made the night before so that it can harden slightly. I let the cubed white bread sit out overnight as well. We ate it without incorporating meat, but this base recipe could easily be modified to include sausage or even nuts and/or apples. The author suggested eating leftovers mixed with shredded leftover turkey as well.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Cornbread:

  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams butter or bacon drippings
  • 2 cups/340 grams yellow cornmeal, medium grind (use the freshest, best quality you can find)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full fat (I used low-fat)

For the Dressing:

  • 3 cups soft white bread, crusts removed and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (do not pack)
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onions
  • 1 ½ cups chopped celery (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 cups rich chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

Optional Additions:

  • 3/4 pound pork sausage (such as spicy Italian sausage, fresh andouille or spicy Southern-style sausage)
  • 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped
  • chopped apples
  1. Make the cornbread: Heat oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Put butter in an 11-inch skillet. Cast-iron is best here, but any ovenproof skillet will do. Heat butter in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until butter has melted and is just starting to brown.
  3. While butter melts, whisk together cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
  4. In another small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir well.
  6. Remove hot pan from oven, pour butter into batter and stir until batter looks uniform.
  7. Pour batter back into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top has begun to just brown.
  8. Remove cornbread and let it cool on a rack.
  9. Tear or cut it into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Let it sit out overnight to dry out slightly.
  10. Prepare the dressing: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cornbread and white bread in a large bowl, tossing to mix, and breaking cornbread into smaller pieces.
  11. Melt butter in a large skillet, and add onions, celery and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes.
  12. Add vegetables to bread mixture and combine.
  13. Lightly beat eggs and add to bowl.
  14. Sprinkle in herbs, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss together.
  15. Add 4 cups broth and stir well.
  16. Using your hands, work the mixture to get a very lumpy, thick, batter-like consistency.
  17. Add another cup of stock if needed. The mixture should be very wet and pourable but without standing liquid.
  18. Butter a 2-quart ovenproof dish. (such as an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. A deeper vessel could take longer to bake; a more shallow dish less time.)
  19. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake until dressing puffs slightly and has browned well around the edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  20. If you have drippings from a roasted turkey, spoon some over the top about 30 minutes into the baking time.

Notes:

  • To Add Sausage: Brown 3/4 pound pork sausage in a pan, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the bread mixture along with the vegetables.
  • To Include Nuts: Add 2 1/2 cups of toasted pecans, chopped, to the vegetable and bread mixture.

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Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread

IMG_2811

I hate to admit it, but I often use the quick Trader Joe’s cornbread mix when we want cornbread as a side. It is sweet and cake-like and yummy. But… My South Carolina-raised husband and I know that this barely sweetened skillet cornbread is the “real deal” southern cornbread. COMPLETELY different from a box mix. The crust was crunchy and buttery; the inside moist and tender- delicious!! The entire kitchen filled with the wonderful smell of nutty browned butter as it baked too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. The recipe makes a GIGANTIC 12-inch skillet (almost) filled to the rim with cornbread. We ate it with Vegetarian Chili with Winter Vegetables and a green salad but had plenty of leftovers for breakfast. The leftover cornbread was wonderful reheated in a toaster oven- and buttered. We also slathered it with homemade Peach-Vanilla Bean Jam. YUM!

Yield: One 12-inch skillet cornbread (or 9×13-inch), about 12 servings (1/2 the recipe could be made in a 9-inch skillet)

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)/170 grams unsalted butter
  • ½ cup/120 ml maple syrup
  • 2 ¼ cups/530 ml buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups/180 grams yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind
  • ½ cup/65 grams whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons/18 grams baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons/9 grams kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon/5 grams baking soda
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees (on convection).
  2. On the stovetop, in a 11- or 12-inch skillet (ovenproof and preferably cast iron), melt the butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan to lightly coat sides and bottom, until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep nut brown. (Watch carefully to see that it does not burn.)(As it is difficult to assess the color in a dark pan, I checked the color in a teaspoon!)
  3. Pour brown butter into a large bowl. (Do not wipe out the pan.)
  4. Whisk the maple syrup into the butter, then whisk in buttermilk. The mixture should be cool to the touch; if not, let cool before whisking in the eggs.
  5. Then whisk in the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  6. If the skillet is no longer hot (cast iron retains heat longer than other metals), reheat it briefly on the stove for a few minutes. Scrape batter back into it.
  7. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into it emerges clean, about 25 minutes (on convection), or up to 30 to 40 minutes in a standard oven. Cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before slicing.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Butternut Squash and Cornbread Stuffing Muffins

IMG_1213

This stuffing is so fabulous it’s not just for Thanksgiving. The muffin presentation is fun and unique but it also cooks quickly and stays moist. So cute too! 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Michael Symon.

I love trying new recipes for our Thanksgiving feast, but, even though I have served this stuffing in the past I had to made it again this year. It’s delicious! I used Trader Joe’s cornbread mix but homemade or another not-too-sweet store-bought cornbread would work well too. I roasted the squash and made the cornbread a day in advance. I think it was our favorite side dish this year- Great!

Yield: 18 muffins

  • One 3-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • Vegetable oil, for rubbing
  • coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds prepared cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used Trader Joe’s cornbread mix- the perfect amount)
  • 3/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T chopped sage
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  1. Bake the cornbread. Cool and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the squash halves cut sides up on a large rimmed baking sheet and rub with oil. Season with salt and pepper and turn the squash cut sides down. Roast for about 1 hour, or until tender. Let cool slightly.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 375°. Spread the corn bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until toasted. Let cool completely. Leave the oven on.
  4. Generously butter a 12-cup muffin tin, and 6 cups in an additional tin. (I used cooking spray.)
  5. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate.
  6. Heat 1/4 cup of the bacon fat in the skillet. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery is softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the bacon.
  7. Peel the roasted squash. Transfer 4 1/2 cups of the squash to a food processor, add the sugar and puree until smooth.
  8. Season the mixture with salt, add the eggs and process until incorporated. Add the chicken stock and process again.
  9. In a large bowl, combine the toasted corn bread with the squash puree and let stand for 5 minutes.
  10. Stir lightly, add the onion-bacon mixture and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir again.
  11. Mound the stuffing in the prepared muffin cups.
  12. Bake the muffins in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, until crisp on top and heated through. Unmold the stuffing muffins and serve hot.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Greens

Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon and Greens
This stuffing had terrific flavor, but the texture was crisp and crumbly.  Once prepared, the stuffing is baked in 2 shallow pans until crispy.  If I had skipped this step, I think that we would have preferred the texture.  This recipe is from Food and Wine.

  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  • Two 8-inch loaves Stone-Ground Corn Breads, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound Tuscan kale, stems discarded
  • 1 pound lean thick-cut bacon, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush 2 large, shallow baking dishes with butter. Spread the corn bread cubes on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Let cool.
  2. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the kale until bright green, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to a colander and drain. Lightly squeeze dry the kale and coarsely chop. Add the bacon to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the 1 stick of butter. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the celery, onions and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the kale, bacon and corn bread and gently toss to mix. Season with salt and black pepper.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then gradually beat in the stock. Gently fold the egg mixture into the stuffing, then fold in the melted butter. Spread the stuffing in the prepared baking dishes and cover with foil.
  5. Bake the stuffing in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 20 minutes longer, until hot throughout and crisp on top. Transfer the baking dishes to racks and let the stuffing rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The corn bread stuffing can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight, before baking.
Stone Ground Cornbread
Stone-Ground Cornbread
  • 2 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Put two 8-inch cast-iron skillets or round cake pans in the oven to heat up. In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil with the eggs and milk. Using a flexible spatula, gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just blended; do not overmix.
  2. In each hot skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, swirling to coat the bottoms and sides. Divide the batter between the skillets and shake to smooth the tops. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until springy when lightly pressed in the center. Transfer the corn breads in the pans to racks to cool. Turn them out onto a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature overnight.
MAKE AHEAD The corn breads can be made several days ahead and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 1 month.

Smothered Pork Chops with Cornbread

When I received three varieties of beautiful kale in my CSA box, this recipe was a perfect celebration.  The greens were so bountiful I even took a picture of them. 🙂  The sauce in this dish is thickened with greens and broth, rather than cream.  So flavorful and healthy.

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I have made this dish on several occasions and have used up to six pork chops and two or more bunches of kale (or many other combinations of greens).  I serve it with roasted acorn squash and roasted potatoes as well.  An autumn feast!

For the Cornbread:

  • 3 T vegetable oil, plus more for dish
  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk (1% okay)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Smothered Pork Chops:

  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 4-6 bone-in or boneless pork chops (about 1 1/2 pounds total; 3/4 inch thick)
  • 1 medium white, yellow, or red onion, sliced
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 to 2 bunches kale, tough stems and ribs removed, leaves cut into narrow ribbons (or any other combination of greens)

  1. Make the Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil or spray with cooking oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add milk, egg, and 3 tablespoons oil and whisk until combined.
  4. Transfer to baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.
  5. Meanwhile, Prepare the Pork: In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 T oil over medium-high.
  6. Season pork generously with salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and loosely tent with foil.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook until softened, 5 minutes.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir to combine.
  9. Gradually whisk in broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, 3 minutes.
  10. Add kale and cook, stirring, until wilted and sauce has thickened.
  11. Serve sauce over pork chops, if desired, alongside cornbread. (I know it isn’t “smothered” but it’s prettier if the meat sits on a bed of greens!)

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