Endless Buttermilk

The two corn and buttermilk recipes only used up 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk out of the quart that I bought, what to do with the rest?  I didn’t want to make biscuits or a cake, I still had plenty of cornbread.  Since buttermilk is a staple of southern cooking, I consulted The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, which had plenty of ideas, and is such a pleasure to read.

   

In making the most of what I had, I made their Cornbread Salad with Buttermilk-Lime dressing.  Supposedly like a panzanella, the cornbread croutons were my least favorite part, becoming soggy and gummy, not having the hearty elasticity of day old country bread.  Everything else I loved.  The dressing is flavorful and herbaceous, although a little thin, nothing that a little sour cream and/or yogurt can’t cure.  I love the combination of bibb lettuce and arugula.  I love the parboiled tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, and the technique – stick a fork in a tomato, boil for 30 seconds, rinse under cold water – which could please the most finicky tomato hater.  To make it to my taste, I replaced the cornbread with hard boiled egg, enjoying the cornbread on the side.

Since I was so happy with the salad, I tried their Crispy Corn Bread, a completely different creature from the Cornbread with Cheese and Corn.  This version is thin and baked in a frying pan.  Lard, or in my case, bacon fat is melted in the pan and heated in the oven before the batter is added, ensuring a brown and crispy crust.  Being almost as thin as a pancake allowed me to reheat it in the toaster oven for two crispy surfaces.  But I still think I prefer the more cake-like quality of the other cornbread.  Maybe I’m not so southern after all.

   

Further defying southern tradition, I opt to make Cook’s Country’s Oven-Fried Chicken instead of a traditional buttermilk fried chicken.  A healthier alternative, skinless chicken is marinated in buttermilk, mustard and Tabasco overnight, and then coated in bread crumbs and cornflakes.  There is good crunch and good flavor, but it’s not fried chicken, more like Shake ‘n Bake.

My reverence for southern cuisine is as a special occasion food, but this southern-influenced meal is light enough for everyday. Using up the buttermilk, though, takes weeks!

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