How to Fix a Cornbread Fail
There isn't much that makes me crankier than seeing perfectly good food go to waste. Regular Extra Crispy readers may have picked up on the fact that food waste (1271 calories a day per person in the US is the average per a recent study) is a particular passion point for the food team; we'll find any excuse to repurpose a watermelon rind, use up sour milk, or even upcycle leftover coffee to save it from being tossed out. So when my pal Larry sent up a virtual flare asking for advice to salvage his crumbled cornbread, I sprang into action.
Larry is a very talented and prolific home cook and friends eagerly follow his #larryskitchen posts for inspiration. Despite what Instagram may have encouraged us to believe, life isn't all exquisitely arranged grain bowls, unbroken hollandaise, and cunning avocado toast. Even the best of us—and especially those of us who cook a lot—muck up a dish from time to time. I deeply appreciate the fact that Larry isn't afraid to document the foul-ups as well as the successes (he's got a lot of those, too) in an effort to make it better the next time.
In this case, it was a cornbread that had fallen apart coming out of the pan (it takes way more grease than most people will allow themselves to deploy) and couldn't really be sliced into servable chunks with chili the way he'd intended. While the traditional thing to do might be to crumble the cornbread into a glass with buttermilk (it's a Southern thing that some folks love and others despise), I suggested that he might try making a cornbread pudding instead. It's not necessarily a thing I'd had before, but bread pudding pretty much exists for the purpose of rescuing stale or excess bread, and corn pudding is a gol-darned delight. Why not give it a shot?
My advice to him in the comments of his Facebook post: "Crumble it into a pan, pour an egg and milk/cream over it, maybe some brown sugar or fruit and butter and bake or steam into CORNBREAD PUDDING. Or crumble further, bake, and use as cornbread crumbs."
And whaddya know—it worked. If I'd been slightly more detailed, I'd have suggested that he whisk one cup or milk or cream for each egg, depending on how much cornbread there was to cover, then put that dish into a larger dish with an inch or two of water to help it steam up in a 350°F oven. From there it can go savory (cheese, hot sauce, salt and pepper) or sweet (cane syrup, molasses, brown sugar, fruit) and stand as a breakfast casserole, a side dish, or a dessert depending on your wants.
So thank you, Larry, and all the other home cooks who aren't afraid to let the seams show. That's a whole pan of food that won't go to waste in a landfill. Call me corny, but that put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.