Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seven Days of Alton Brown #1: Hoecakes!

In case my tendencies towards the geeky side of cooking wasn’t clear enough, let me state it now. I am a huge food geek. And having said that, it should be little surprise that I absolutely loved the show Good Eats and Alton Brown’s scientific delving into all sorts of dishes, episode after episode.  This is not to say that all food geeks love Alton Brown or Alton Brown fans are food geeks, but I’ll own up to both readily.

So it was an absolutely amazing moment to actually see the man in person, shake his hand, and get my book signed.

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Be jealous. Very jealous. (Good Eats 3, I highly recommend it, and if you like it, buy it from this link!)

To commemorate this momentous occasion in my life, for the next seven posts (hopefully in seven consecutive days,) I shall be posting a recipe, or should I say an application, from this wonderful tome of cooking.

The first application I have opted to try is the hoecake. With six ingredients including water, and the most exotic one being corn, it seems a great place to start. The book recipe actually titles it a dutch oven hoecake since you can use a dutch oven on coals to make these, potentially making this a great camping dish. But for the everyday, I’ve opted for the cast iron skillet version.

Mise en place: some corn (half cup, fresh or thawed if frozen), kosher salt (1.5 tsp), one egg, corn meal (1 cup), baking powder (2 tsp) and water (3/4 cup).

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Assembly of the ingredients doesn’t get much simpler. First, the corn meal.

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Then the salt and baking powder.

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Drop in the egg.

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And stir together!

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Once that’s done, add the corn meal and stir again.

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Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, then brush with vegetable oil. Once it’s ready, dollop about two tablespoons of the batter onto the surface. This takes about two minutes to three minutes. In my case, I only needed two minutes a side.

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It really starts to firm up quite nicely over this time period.

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Ok, it’s ready to flip now.

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There it is on the left, and I just started another hoecake on the right. Maximize the use of  your cooking surface folks!

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After two more minutes I took the first one off and flipped the second.

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I couldn’t help myself. I had to take a bite. What immediately struck me about this dish is how buttery it felt, in spite of not having any butter at all. A great cornmeal texture too.

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Work quickly or keep them warm in a 200 degree oven. Really, these are best right off the pan, letting them hang out is not optimal in the least.

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And who can resist right?

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AB suggests that these are great with maple syrup.

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They really are. Just a great application of corn meal folks.

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In fact, I would have to say it is definitely…

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Stay tuned for more AB and Good Eats applications!


  1. Way too much salt!!!! I would suggest 3/4 of a teaspoon max.