12/24/2009

Christmas and Corn Dodgers


Happy Christmas to one and all.  In Hawaii, a Norfolk Pine, topped or in a pot, serves nicely as a Christmas tree.  This one was interfering with the electric lines, and actually had two tops, so my daughter got one and we got the other.  The branches are widely spaced, which requires some filling in with ornaments and draping stuff  to look decent.

Did you ever watch True Grit and wonder what a Corn Dodger was?   Here is a bit of research, excerpted from America's Best Lost Recipes: 121 Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget from the Editors of Cook's Country magazine (America's Test Kitchen, 2007). Copyright 2007 by the Editors of Cook's Country:
Abraham Lincoln was raised on these little oval cornmeal cakes, George Washington Carver took them to school, and John Wayne (playing Rooster Cogburn) used them for target practice in the movie True Grit.
Dating back to the 1800s, the first corn dodgers were made from "hot water corn bread," a mixture of cornmeal, pork fat, salt, and boiling water that was formed into small oblong loaves and baked. Similar recipes were given different names depending on how the dough was shaped and cooked. Corn pone have the same oblong shape as dodgers, but are pan-fried in lots of oil. Johnnycakes are flattened into small pancakes, then griddle-fried. Ashcakes are rounds of dough wrapped in cabbage leaves, then placed in the ashes of the campfire to cook. Hoecakes are formed into small pancakes, then placed on the flat side of a garden hoe (really!) and cooked over the campfire.
The original Corn Dodgers were, similar to hard tack, dense, gritty, and hard as a brick.  Which is why they were good for carrying in a saddlebag for days on end, or for pitching at a target as well.  Mine bear no resemblance to their 19th century forbears.  I just like the name.  They are light, moist, tender and as wonderful as the sweet, fresh shucked corn inside.  I wouldn't bother making them with anything else.  And, unless you're having a really rotten Christmas, you won't want to throw them at anything.

For the recipe I used Irma Ronbauer's Corn Oysters, from my old edition of Joy of Cooking.  An extremely simple, easy batter which works marvelously in that new appliance of mine, yes, the aebleskiver pan.

Corn Dodgers
Make batter immediately before using it.
Prepare 1 cup freshly scraped corn
add:
2 well-beaten eggs
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, dash cayenne, or as Irma suggests, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter

Heat skillet or aebleskiver pan on medium low heat.  When hot add a marble sized piece of butter in each well, or a tablespoon at a time if you are using a skillet and making little cakes.  Swirl the pan a bit to coat, and when hot, sizzling and fragrant fill each well with batter.  Turn when lightly golden brown on the bottom, and brown the other side, turning again if necessary.

I served them as a side with some beef tenderloin, but they would be perfect with barbequed chicken, served  as starters, more party pupus, or for breakfast with a nice slice of ham, YES.

2 comments:

Mediterranean kiwi said...

corn dodgers - they look cool
i love your tree too!
happy new year!

Dena said...

I also have a aebleskiver pan and it makes amazing little pancake balls. Thanks for this recipe. I will be trying it.