The headline on this story I ran across last week says, “The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place in Cornbread” and then it goes on for enough paragraphs to make you almost want a second double of brown water (one cube of ice, please).
But I agree with the headline, writer and his thoughts. Sugar in cornbread? Egads! Blasphemy! May locusts descend upon your corn and gnaw the stalks to the roots!
OK, I know some of you like sugar in your cornbread. To each his or her own. Me? I prefer mine without. My late great-grandmother, who died more than 30 year ago, probably made cornbread every day of her life, far as my then-young mind could tell. Her well-worn cast iron skillets took a healthy spoonful of lard before going into the hot oven, the cornmeal batter was put in after the lard melted and got justaboutsizzlinghot and then it became a brown crust with golden topped delight waiting for a nice pat of butter.
My wife’s late grandmother did the same, best I can recall. I might give up a month of deer season to have a few skillets of their cornbread again. Alas, all I have is fine, enjoyable memories.
In Robert Moss’ story here about cornbread, sugar and the why or why not of sugar, he writes this about how sugar is believed to come into play in some kitchens of old and today:
The change from stone to steel milling is likely what prompted cooks to start putting sugar in their cornbread, too. In the old days, Southerners typically ground their meal from varieties known as dent corn, so called because there’s a dent in the top of each kernel. The corn was hard and dry when it was milled, since it had been “field ripened” by being left in the field and allowed to dry completely.
High-volume steel millers started using corn harvested unripe and dried with forced air, which had less sweetness and corny flavor than its field-ripened counterpart. “You put sugar in the cornmeal because you are not working with brix corn,” Roberts says, using the trade term for sugar content. “There’s no reason to add sugar if you have good corn.”
One thing I do know is that I enjoy a good slab of buttered cornbread with a hearty bowl of venison stew or other deer delights. A hearty meal of venison, veggies and hot cornbread sure hits the spot.
You can whip up a skillet or two of cornbread with these hundreds of venison recipes that are sure to tickle your taste buds. Among the recipes in this collection are stews, soups, roasts, grilled goodies, jerky and more, including preparation tips from field to kitchen. It’s a fantastic collection.
Don’t forget the cornbread, either. Sugar or no sugar is your option, of course.
— Alan Clemons, Managing Editor
Here’s a great venison stew recipe from Chef Brad McGehee at Ye Olde College Inn in New Orleans. Johnny Blancher, one of the co-owners of Ye Olde College Inn, gave us the thumbs up to reprint it and said they love wild game. Enjoy!
Ye Olde College Inn Venison Stew
1 (2-pound) venison shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
¼ cup tomato paste
1½ cups red wine
2 (12-ounce) bottles dark beer
1 tablespoon sugar
3 quarts beef stock, divided
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 pound Vidalia onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 pound carrots, sliced ½ inch thick
½ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1. Pat venison dry with paper towels. Season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add venison, in batches if necessary, and brown meat on all sides. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Add red wine, and scrape bottom of pan to release any brown bits. Add beer, sugar, and remaining 1½ teaspoons each salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
3. Add 2 quarts stock, hot sauce, and Worcestershire; simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 1 hour. Add remaining 1 quart stock, potatoes, onions, and carrots. Continue simmering until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in parsley before serving. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired.
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