I love roadtrips. Last summer, we did two weeks from Manhattan to Bar Harbor, Maine. It was all the incredible food, museums, and hiking a girl could want.
In Manhattan, we decided to take a day exploring Central Park, starting at the southern end, and working up to the northern end where Harlem begins. I like to call it urban hiking. If you get to the very middle of the northern end (Some maps and signs say Lenox Avenue and some say Malcolm X Blvd – same thing) and keep walking another 16 blocks north (corner of 126th), you hit an amazing restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem. (There’s a subway stop right across from the restaurant if walking’s not your jam or if you’re using a cab, it’s 310 Lenox Ave.) It’s Marcus Samuelsson’s place, and it oozes cool and everything’s delicious. I picked up a baseball cap there, and couldn’t seem to put it away the rest of the trip. What can I say?! It loves hiking!
I fell in love with the book, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem, first. Everything was wonderful, but his cornbread was the best cornbread I’d ever had. There are a lot of cornbread recipes I love, but his really stands out. A huge thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for letting me share it with you. Don’t skip the sage honey butter in the notes! Who knew that sage belonged in honey butter? Marcus did. And it does. My review of the book is right after the recipe.
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CORN BREAD is excerpted from THE RED ROOSTER COOKBOOK © 2016 by Marcus Samuelsson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Makes 1 (9-x-5-inch) loaf
This is right up there with the Fried Yardbird as a core recipe at the Rooster. We even have someone dedicated to making all our corn bread. Charles Webb, a former Alvin Ailey dancer, is the keeper of our secrets.
I knew from the beginning how I wanted it to taste, but we continue to tinker and change
the recipe. This version is very moist, almost custardy. It will keep for 4 days, but a better plan is to freeze individual slices.
1 cup cake flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
¾ cup sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper
s coarse kosher salt
1¾ cups sour cream
1½ cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
⅔ cup corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan with pan spray.
2. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, Aleppo pepper, and salt together in a bowl.
3. Whisk the sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, yolk, and melted butter together in another bowl until smooth.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in the corn.
5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake until the bread is browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan and a skewer poked into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
6. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the sides and turn out the loaf. You can cut it now—the slices will be messy—or cool completely.
There are plenty of things to spread on cornbread – like either the Bird Funk or Chicken Liver Butter (both on page 82) – but I do love the way sage honey butter melts into the bread when it’s warm: Beat 2 Tablespoons honey and 12 ripped fresh sage leaves into 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) softened, unsalted butter. Check it for salt. Cover and refrigerate the honey butter for at least an hour to give the sage a chance to work its flavor into the butter, but take it out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving.
My review of the book…..
The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem
by Marcus Samuelsson
I love this book. The recipes we’ve tried were all delicious and interesting! He’s an intense flavorist – not an apologetic bite to be found. There are cool photos throughout. I love making playlists to go along with cookbooks, and Marcus includes his own playlists, chapter by chapter. It’s just frosting on the cake, but I really appreciate good frosting.
He was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Sweden, and then moved to New York, and he brings all of that to the book. If you want more of his story, Yes, Chef: A Memoir is fantastic, and he narrates the audiobook himself.
My thoughts and pics of the dishes we tried:
1) Obama’s Short Ribs – p168, Spicy Sweets and Green Beans with Spiced Butter – p170 & 62, and Cornbread with Honey Sage Butter – p63. Holy wow! Is that ever a terrific dinner! The ribs braise in wine, stock, ginger, lemongrass, etc, and they’re tender as can be. The cornbread is easily the best I’ve ever had, and the sweet potato green bean dish is face meltingly spicy, and yummy, packed with Berbere seasoning and fresh jalapeños.
2) Mac and Greens – p119 with Killer Collards – p123 in Spiced Butter – p62. I can see why customers wouldn’t let him take it off the menu. Two pounds of collard greens simmer in a half pound of the spiced butter. I thought it was excessive til I tasted it. Ridiculously, wonderfully decadent. This is the perfect entree when you have vegetarian friends coming over. Yeah, you’ll get all the hugs.
3-4) Shrimp Bird and Grits – p 204. I was flipping through the book at the library, and noted about 50 recipes I wanted to try, and then saw this one. You fry two chicken thighs, then immediately separate the meat from the skin and toss it on a cooling rack. The meat gets shredded and tossed into grits with pimento cheese. Top that with a poached egg and tomato-y shrimp. Then you blitz the chicken skin with Saltine crackers and parmesan in the food processor to create “bird dust” that gets sprinkled over the whole thing. Chicken dust?! That’s the stuff of fairies, and the sort of fairies that you really want to visit. I hit the buy button on Amazon right in the middle of the library, and I’m so glad I did! This is beautiful.
Do you write in your books? If you do, this is a time sensitive one, so I find it really helpful to scribble out a timeline.
5-6) I think this could win over the biggest brussels-phobe. Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Dip – p295, and Peanut Bacon Pork Chops – p214. The dip is a homemade bacon mayonnaise made with the bacon grease, then the bacon is folded back in. Best dinner so far! Total wow!
7) Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Burrata and Tomato Seed Vinaigrette – p 242. I made this as a light refreshing dinner on a hot summer night. It hit the spot. My grocer doesn’t carry burrata anymore, so I went with the creamiest fresh mozzarella they had instead. Blistered tomatoes, pan seared watermelon, garlic, jalapeño, basil, and burrata dressed in balsamic, tomato seed, and olive oil. Really harmonious flavors.
8) Fried Yardbird – p 85. I LOVE his chicken shake. Gorgeous seasoning. Brined, then marinated overnight in buttermilk, coconut milk and chicken shake (I gave it two nights because life happened and that was fine), and finally coated, fried, and sprinkled with more chicken shake. Just bring the chicken shake to the table, because someone’s going to want more of that stuff!
9) Rooster Donuts with Sweet Potato Cream – p 186. These are a labor of love, but oh so worth it! The donuts are a little puff pastry-ish, and the sweet potato pastry cream has gorgeous texture and is not overly sweet. The recipe makes a whole army of little donut holes across your counter, but they disappear quickly.
Others I have flagged to try: Cauliflower Frites with Green Mayonnaise – p 56 * Wild Wild Wings – p 81 * BB Roo Chicken Sandwich on a Potato Roll – p 90 * Lemon Chicken with Green Harissa and Roast Eggplant Puree – p 94 * Jerk Bacon and Baked Beans – p 112 * Catfish and Pecans – p 115 * Cordero (Lamb) and Grits with Grilled Chile Vinaigrette – p 150 * Puerco en Cerveza (Pork in beer), Plantains on the side – p 154La Marqueta Pork Tack Tack – p 158 * Aunt Grete’s Beef – p 175 * Yep, Chicken and Waffles – p 210 * Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Dressing – p 217 * Block Party Ribs with Sweet Q Sauce – p 234 * Andouille Bread Pudding – p 260 * The Breakfast – p 266 * Brown Butter Biscuits – p 314 * Pan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Dried Cherries and Walnuts – p 340 * The Green Viking (green apple sorbet with caramel) – p 361 * Banana and Pecan Pie – p 372
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