Just had the pleasure of writing about Chicago chef’s favorite food memories, represented in this photo of a golden hour picnic I made with the recipes from the chefs .(I’ll post more here in coming weeks!) Chef Lamar Moore’s recipe for a fabulously tall and tender country cornbread is the first I’m sharing. Growing up on Chicago’s West side, Lamar Moore spent a lot of time with his grandparents. Afternoons, while his grandfather made a one-pot goulash of chicken neckbones, with potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, “and any herbs he could find,” Lamar says his grandmother would busy herself making cornbread to go alongside. “It was simply white cornmeal, eggs, dried-evaporated milk powder, and lard,” says Moore. “Sometimes, she’d get busy doing something else in the kitchen, and the cornbread would get burnt on the edges. When that happened, she’d crumble it into bowls, pour some buttermilk and sugar on it, and my brother and I would eat it with spoons.”
The flavor was so good, Moore patterned his Burnt Buttermilk Cake on it. But at his home now, Moore likes to make cornbread he’s perfected to include buttermilk in the batter, serving it with whipped honey butter. “You have to bake it in a cast iron skillet that you’ve heated with a little fat in the bottom—that makes the crust crisp up when it hits the pan,” says Moore. The stiff, rich batter includes choice of butter or shortening, with both flour and white cornmeal, buttermilk and a splash of molasses in the mix. It bakes up into a corncake that’s a full four inches tall, with crispy outside edges and a tender, inside texture. “I learned a good portion of my recipes from my grandmother, and my version of this one is a summer favorite,” says Moore.