Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Test Kitchen: Rutherford Grill's Cornbread

This weekend, my step-dad bought a skillet and challenged me to recreate Rutherford Grill's popular cornbread. When I snooped around for a recipe, I quickly found out that it was a house secret. We know the flavor profile because we have had the cornbread so many times so we started there and created a recipe from scratch. After three attempts, we finally nailed it. Here is our variation of Napa Valley's Rutherford Grill Cornbread.

A couple things:
1) Don't even think about making this with out the skillet
2) Buy 2 ears of corn, grill them until charred brown and cut off the cob
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 jalapenos, fine dice with some seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal (preferably stone-ground; not coarse)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of bacon lard (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Special equipment: a 9 1/2- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet
Heat grill to medium high. Lightly brush corn with oil and grill turning every 3 minutes until charred and golden brown. Cut kernels off of cobs. Set aside.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add butter, lard and oil to skillet and heat in oven until melted, about 5 minutes, then carefully pour into a medium bowl.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, jalapeno, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk and eggs into melted butter, then stir into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Pour into hot skillet and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in skillet on a rack 5 minutes.



Nan Crawford said...

As as a gal from Texas, I was hard pressed to admit when I first sat down at the Rutherford Grill, that they made the best cornbread I had ever eaten. And I have eaten it many times since.

I too tried unsuccessfully to get the recipe, but I did after a long evening of banter I did finally learn from one of the wait staff that it included creamed corn... Of course that may or may not be true, but sure sounded tasty. So I was getting ready to do some test kitchen attempts of my own, and doing some research on the web, when I found your blog. I look forward to trying out your version!

Thanks for putting it out there.

Jenny said...

Hi. This recipe was the only one I could find close to Rutherford Grill's. OMG, theirs is soooo good. I used to live in Napa and we would go all the time. Yum.
I had fun making this recipe and it turned out really good in the skillet. I modified a little by adding 1/2 a can of creamed corn, canned jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Then, when out of the oven, drizzled with melted butter and honey. In my opinion, these finishing touches made all the difference.

Jacquelyn said...

I've searched high and low for someone who had cracked the Rutherford Grille cornbread secret. I can't wait to try yours! The only thing that seems to be missing is their topping. Theirs is bubbly almost like a crumble on a sweet coffee cake or something but made with cornmeal. I also always figured the chiles were poblano.

Anyway, I'm excited that you got good results and am eager to test it out for myself!

Stephanie S said...

Just got back from Rutherford Grill and their cornbread. I asked the waitress what the green they were using was, and she said "green chile". The New Mexican in me rejoiced! Anyway, I thought I would share since I noticed you used jalepeno rather than green chile.
Thanks for attempting to crack the recipe. I'll be giving it a try!

erik long said...

I have made this recipe about a half dozen times. And it has always been real good, but still sub par compared to eating at the Rutherford restaurant. That is until the last time I ate there, and (thanks to my mother who I was treating to dinner) asked to talk to the head chef to give thanks for such a great steak. The chef was a very nice women who sat and talked to us for a few minutes. I told her how I try so hard to get it just as it is here. She said she wouldn't be able to give me any hints on what goes into making it, however would tell me the secret to get the top to become crunchy and cracked. She said the key is not over mixing the wet and dry ingredients together,but actually leaving some of the dry ingredients powdery. Well of course I couldn't wait to get home and give it a try. Bingo, that made all the difference. It was as close to the restaurants as I could ever ask for. Hope this tip helps all the loyal Rutherford grill cornbread junkies.