Onion corn bread leaves last­ing mem­ory

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By EL­IZ­A­BETH KARMEL in­Wooster, Ohio

Over the sum­mer, I trav­eled to a bar­be­cue sum­mit at the head­quar­ters of Cer­ti­fied An­gus Beef.

It was a trip filled with learn­ing, ca­ma­raderie — and lots of smoked beef.

My fel­low bar­be­cue pit masters and I vis­ited a black An­gus ranch, talked bar­be­cue non-stop, cut a side of beef to­gether — or rather watched as the “meat doc­tor” Phil Bass cut and ex­plained.

I was in­tro­duced to sev­eral new cuts in­clud­ing beef belly — also known as beef ba­con— which I im­me­di­ately made when I got back home. But, the stand­out of the trip wasn’t bar­be­cue at all. In­stead, it was a Vi­dalia onion corn­bread made by Ash­ley Pado, chef of the ed­u­ca­tion and culi­nary cen­ter at Cer­ti­fied An­gus Beef head­quar­ters. The sweet onions are a fa­mous prod­uct of theUS state ofGe­or­gia; other va­ri­eties of sweet onion can be used in the recipe.

Pado headed up a team of chefs pre­par­ing that day's feast that in­cluded a ta­ble of smoked beef, nu­mer­ous side dishes, home-baked breads, pick­led veg­eta­bles and that mem­o­rable corn­bread that sparkled with a pave of caramelized Vi­dalia onion rings set in the bot­tom of the corn­bread. When Pado served the corn­bread, she in­verted it in the cast-iron pan so you could see the con­cen­tric cir­cles of onion baked into the bot­tom. Even be­fore we took a bite, the group mar­veled at the pre­sen­ta­tion and won­dered why more peo­ple don’t em­bel­lish corn­bread.

The corn­bread it­self is light and cakey with a lit­tle tang and a lit­tle sweet­ness, but the salty sa­vory al­most-fried onions take it over the top. Pado sauteed the onions in beef ba­con since she had it in her pantry. When I made the recipe, I adapted it us­ing pork ba­con, but you could use but­ter or any kind of ba­con that you can get your hands on. Ash­ley’s Vi­dalia onion ca­st­iron corn­bread Start to fin­ish: One hour Serv­ings: 8 1 1/2 cups all-pur­pose flour 2/3 cup gran­u­lated white sugar 1/2 cup yel­low corn meal 1 ta­ble­spoon bak­ing pow­der 1/2 tea­spoon kosher salt 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/2 cup but­ter­milk 3 whole eggs, beaten 1/3 cup veg­etable oil 3 ta­ble­spoons melted but­ter 1 large Vi­dalia (sweet) onion 4 slices ba­con, diced Equip­ment: 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skil­let Heat oven to 190 C. Saute ba­con over low heat in skil­let un­til crisp. Mean­while, slice the onion into thin rounds, mak­ing sure you keep them in­tact and in one piece. Re­move ba­con frompan but leave the ba­con grease for the onions to cook in. Care­fully place the onion rounds in the bot­to­mof the pan to cover the sur­face. Let onions cook un­til the edges be­gin to brown. Be care­ful to keep onions in place — the bot­tom of the skil­let will have a "polka-dot" pat­tern. Sea­son onions with a dust­ing of fresh ground black pep­per. Turn off the heat and set aside un­til ready to bake the corn­bread. If the pan cools down, warm the pan on low heat be­fore pour­ing the corn­bread bat­ter in pan. In a large bowl, whisk to­gether flour, sugar, corn meal, bak­ing pow­der and salt. Set aside. In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix to­gether the cream, but­ter­milk, oil, eggs and melted but­ter un­til com­bined — the mix­ture will emul­sify. Set aside. Add wet to dry in­gre­di­ents and mix un­til com­bined. Don't over mix. Bat­ter should look slightly lumpy. Just be­fore bak­ing, add the cooked ba­con back to the pan and place in the ar­eas around the onions— not on top of the onions or it will in­ter­fere with the onion pat­tern. Pour corn­bread bat­ter di­rectly into hot pan. Place in the cen­ter rack of the oven and bake for 30min­utes or un­til a tooth­pick in­serted in the mid­dle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 min­utes, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cast-iron skil­let to make sure that it isn't stick­ing on the sides. Care­fully turn the skil­let up­side down and flip corn­bread out of pan to ex­pose onion rounds — you can in­vert the corn­bread and place it up­side down back into the skil­let for serv­ing. Serve at room tem­per­a­ture or warm. Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 419 calo­ries; 211 calo­ries from­fat; 24 g fat (9 g sat­u­rated; 1 g trans fats); 117 mg choles­terol; 407 mg sodium; 46 g car­bo­hy­drate; 2 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 7 g pro­tein. El­iz­a­beth Karmel is a bar­be­cue and South­ern foods ex­pert and au­thor. She is the chef and pit mas­ter at on­line re­tailer Caroli­naCueToGo.com. AP

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