Monday, January 18, 2021

Microwave Cornbread?

      Yep.  Microwave cornbread.  As good as the oven-baked kind, too.

     You see, I had bought a package of N. K. Hurst's 15 Bean Soup dried-bean mix, having found myself waxing nostalgic for the home-made ham and bean soup of my childhood.  It's not quite the recipe on the package; Mom left out the tomatoes and lemon juice near the end, added some celery early, and served it with raw diced onion and celery on the side.

      Do they sell those mixes where you live?  N. K. Hurst is local to me, so while I'd like to assume the general sort of thing is available all over, if not, the basic mix contains beans (pinto, white Navy, kidney, etc.)* and pulses (lentils, green and yellow split peas), though Wikipedia assures me all beans are pulses.  There's a packet of seasoning mix, too, which I rarely use.  You rinse off the beans, sort through them for ringers (uncommon these days) and soak them overnight in plenty of water.  Pour off the water the next day, add fresh water plus a pound or so of ham, a little garlic, a couple of bay leaves, a diced onion and a couple of stalks of celery, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for two or three hours or more.

      Pretty simple, as long as the soup doesn't boil over on you.  You stir it every so often, and keep an eye on it.

      The traditional family side with bean soup is fresh-baked cornbread.  The store-bought stuff is like cake and I'm not a fan. There's at least one good mix, but the oven in the old stove here at Roseholme Cottage isn't great.  I try not to run it.  So that was a challenge: how to make cornbread without the oven. There are some stovetop versions but they're tricky.

      Microwave "mug" cake is a neat stunt.  It was all over YouTube several years ago.  Not the greatest cake in the world, but it mixes up quickly and cooks in even faster.  A few weeks ago, I'd tried a commercial microwave blueberry muffin mix, the same "nuke in a mug" gimmick, and it was pretty good.  There's a cornbread mix, too, but the reviews for it are, well, mixed.

      But there are plenty of microwave cornbread recipes on the web, and in more than mug-sized quantity, too.  Most of them use ordinary staple ingredients.  I looked at a couple and combined them, ending up with this one, minus the sugar† and with half again as much salt.  I added a half-teaspoon of Cajun spice mix, too -- YMMV.  I mixed the dry ingredients in a 6-cup Pyrex bowl, beat the eggs and milk, added the oil‡ and stirred that up, then mixed the liquids into the dry.  The resulting batter is very thick.  I gave it several minutes to rest, then popped it into the microwave.

     The recipe called for three minutes and then testing with a toothpick.  My microwave is a little underpowered, so I gave it four minutes and the toothpick pulled out globs.  Another minute helped and thirty seconds more did the trick.  You do have to feel your way here.

      The end result is cornbread as good as any I have baked -- except there's no crust on the bottom!  It just ends.  The top has a decent crust and the texture is excellent.  It doesn't crumble to bits, even at the points when cut into wedges.  And it tasted great!

      You can microwave cornbread just fine.  It'll sop up home-made bean soup just as good as the oven-baked stuff.  Maybe even better.
* The mix I remember had black beans, too, and the end result was a very gray soup.  It tasted great -- and so does the modern version, which is a more appealing hue.  According to their website, the modern formulation dates back to the 1980s.  So what were we eating in the 1960s and 70s? 
† Cornbread is not cake, and I see no need for sugar in it.
‡ There's a trick here: just about anything in the general fats and oils category works.  I used light olive oil; that's what I usually have handy.  But you can use bacon grease.  Get it liquid and add it in -- and cut way down on the salt in the dry ingredients.  Melted butter works, too.  But those are not heart-healthy variations.


rickn8or said...

You had me going your way right up to the "no crust on the bottom."

And I agree about the "no sugar" part.

Roberta X said...

Rickn8or, it's got crust on the top (where the air gets at it better), and pretty decent, though not quite browned. It's a microwave. The heat doesn't come from the bottom up.

It's fresh from-scratch cornbread in about six minutes, total. That's something.

fillyjonk said...

I've had their Hambeens mixture but I do not remember now where I found it, and given pandemic limitation-of-my-circulation I have not seen it at either of the two groceries I currently use. Which makes me sad; I have a good multi-bean soup recipe (Pea-Bean Alphabet Soup - from the Winnie-the-Pooh cookbook, no kidding) and I can't buy eighteen bags of various beans just to use a few tablespoons from each.

I did find a "fancy" mixed-bean soup mix on one of my last jaunts to Kroger; it's sitting on my shelf for a time when I have the time for long soaking and boiling of beans and want soup.

Never have heard of microwave cornbread, will have to consider trying it.

emtgene said...

Microwave cornbread is new to me, have to try it. Have to disagree with you on the bacon grease/butter comment. Both are prominent in the Keto diet, and I've lost 90 pounds in three years on it.

Sevesteen said...

I used to do the 15 bean soup with ham pretty much following the recipe. They occasionally had a beef version that I liked better...but it wasn't always available at my stores. I've used the beans without the seasoning as a base for chili. (Past tense is due to massive diet changes, although now that I think of it I'll probably do a modified 15 bean chili)