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Patriotic Chicken

July 7, 2010

Happy Independence Day to all!  Chicken Monday is observed on Tuesday this week due to the holiday.  Of course, we did have chicken on Monday in the form of chicken sausage, which has now become a staple in our house.  To recover from the holiday weekend, we cooked a simple meal that ironically turned out to be red, white and blue.  Since our state was under a heat advisory due to excessive heat and humidity, I did not want to be slaving over a hot stove.  So, I made my husband slave over the hot grill!  We grilled chicken tenders with our old standby, Sweet Baby Ray’s original BBQ sauce (RED!).  Since the tenders were boneless, they cooked quite quickly so the time in the heat was kept to a minimum.

On the side, I served store-bought potato salad (WHITE!) and crisp salad from a bag, which are amazingly easy items to serve when the heat makes you feel like walking across the kitchen to get a spoon may end your life!  But, I needed to prepare something homemade to make the dish really pop.  I found a tempting recipe from a newly received cookbook, Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods. Divided into seasonal sections based on what fresh foods are available and paired with stories from local growers around the country, this book will become an important companion in my kitchen as well as on my reading table.  Scanning the summer recipe section revealed a blueberry cornbread with a honey butter glaze that I couldn’t resist (BLUE!).  The recipe was listed as a dessert, but was also recommended as a side.

Blueberry Corn Bread

Corn Bread Ingredients Honey Butter, optional

1 cup yellow cornmeal                                                    2 tsp. melted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour                                                    1/4 cup liquid honey

1/2 cup granulated suager

3 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup whole milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries

1.) Preheat the oven to 400.  Grease and 8″ square baking pan.

2.) In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla.  Add the liquid ingredients to the large bowl wit the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

4.) Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake until the corn bread is lightly browned and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

5.)  If using, whisk together the honey and butter in a small bowl.  Brush all or some of the mixture onto the corn bread, about 10 minutes after it is removed from the oven.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This cornbread was so delicious and versatile that it could be served at any meal, or even for dessert.  The bread is just lightly sweetened, but every bite is bursting with big blueberry flavor.  So far we have consumed the bread for dinner, at lunch and at breakfast.  I also feel – as I do with many things – that a scoop of ice cream served with a slice of this cornbread would be the perfect end to a hot summer day.

The honey butter on top is optional, but we went for it.  It was a good move because as you bring the bread up to your mouth, the fist sense that gets awakened is scent – the lightness of the honey wakes your brain up for the treat it is about the receive.   In my mind, summer dishes are all about sides.  You can slap anything on the grill and it will taste good, but if you serve the right sides, your average summer cookout because an event to remember.  Adding this blueberry cornbread will lighten up your weeknight menu or give your guests something to remember.  Happy Summer!

Blueberries are a treasured summer fruit.

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