( Beef Cobbler)
Living with a blossoming chef (below)
(a different day: research with toffee)
has many advantages, one of which is learning of reliable sources of creative recipes. She not only knows where to look, but she has intuitive insight into how to evaluate or play with the recipes. This is how I became familiar with epicurious.com and began a new level of experimenting with food.
One afternoon a few months ago, I was looking at the ubiquitous thawed ground beef, not at all excited about my previous plans for dinner. I searched a few places and landed at the above mentioned website and found Spiced Beef Corn Bread Cobbler. The chief problem with following a recipe from many of these sites, however, is that nearly everyone experiments with the original, so the reviews are nearly useless. On the other hand, one leaves the discussion feeling very free to branch out with a myriad of possibilities.
Admittedly, I didn’t follow the recipe, either, for reasons of personal taste and ingredients on hand. The results we had for dinner became an easy family favorite, which I made again tonight. Maybe my version will inspire you:
Spiced Beef Corn Bread Cobbler
2 medium onions, diced
about 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I generally use olive oil)
5 cloves garlic, mashed or pressed (have used granulated garlic also)
3 pounds ground beef
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
around 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-3/4 teaspoon mild curry powder
dash of cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
about 3 cups (home canned) pureed tomatoes, juice and all
one 6 ounce can tomato paste
two 15 ounce cans black beans ( drained seems to work best, but not crucial)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cook onion in the 4 TBSPs of oil in deep heavy skillet over moderate high heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, maybe 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes more. Add beef and cook, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink. Add sugar, spices, 2 teaspoons of salt – cook while stirring. Add tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, and beans. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly reduced and somewhat thickened.
Meanwhile make cornbread topping:
2 and 2/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 and 1/3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons oil
whole corn (optional)
In medium-large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, 1 and 1/2 TBSP sugar. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and 6 TBSPs oil. Combine with flour/cornmeal mixture, just until dry ingredients are moist (avoiding over-mixing). Fold in cheese (and a cup or two of whole corn, if desired).
Butter a large flat casserole dish, at least 10 x15 inches. (Mine tends to spill over just a little in this size dish while baking. Maybe two 9x13s would be a good idea?) Spoon beef mixture into dish. Spoon mounds of cornbread batter over beef and smooth somewhat evenly. Sprinkle with some extra cheese if desired.
Bake 20-30 minutes, or until wooden pic comes out of center of cornbread clean. A bit of sour cream on the side is nice. Goes well with steamed broccoli.
May all your culinary experiments be delicious!