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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scott Peacock, Southern Corn Bread and Corn Bread-Pecan Dressing

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Just last week we explored the life of Edna Lewis, a woman many believe to be responsible for the revival and preservation of Southern cooking. Her story is a compelling piece of Americana but lurking in the background of that tale lies another that begs to be told. In the early 1990's, Miss Lewis met Scott Peacock, a troubled young chef who suffered from fierce bouts of clinical depression. Drawn by their shared love of the South and Southern cooking, this old woman and this young, gay white man forged an unusual friendship. Together they harnessed memories, techniques and recipes and combined them in the book, The Gift of Southern Cooking. They became known as the Odd Couple of Southern Cooking. There was nothing kinky here. She wished to pass on what she knew and he was an avid listener who was willing to soak up all she had to pass along. Over time they became family to each other. In the early days of their friendship she helped him through bouts of depression and kept him focused. As she aged and became fragile, he became her caretaker. She lived with him for years and died at the age of 89 in his home. Scott first met Edna when he was in his early 20's working as a chef for the governor of Georgia. They met at a food festival where he helped her make pies, and, in the course of conversation, shared with her his love of Southern cooking. She invited him to visit her in Brooklyn and there convinced him to shelve his plans for foreign study, urging him to stay in-country and document the food he already knew and loved. As corny as it sounds, he writes from the heart, and when they worked together he added balance to her memories and opinions and was able to combine her cooking instincts with his own. He was the heart, she was the soul of their collaboration. In 2007, Scott was named Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation. These days he is working on a memoir that will include his time with Edna and, in a separate project, documenting the food memories of other octogenarians in the South. If you have about 20 minutes you might want to link to this touching video. I've chosen a simple recipe for corn bread and corn bread-pecan dressing to highlight his cooking style. It made this damn Yankee smile. I think you'll like it, too

Corn Bread-Pecan Dressing...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Scott Peacock via Chef Recipes Made Easy

Southern corn bread (see below)
3 cups pecan halves (11 ounces)
8 thick slices of slab bacon
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (5 ounces), 4 tablespoons melted
3 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 cups coarsely chopped celery
3 large shallots, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons rubbed sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
6 large eggs, beaten
1-3/4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1) Break corn bread into large pieces, scatter on a baking sheet and let dry overnight. 2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast pecans for about 10 minutes, or until nicely browned and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
3) In a large skillet, cook bacon in 6 tablespoons of butter until very crisp, about 10 minutes; reserve the bacon for another use (I recommend BLT's). Add onions, celery, shallots, sage and thyme to skillet and cook over low heat until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
4) Tear corn bread into 1 1/2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Top with cooked vegetable mixture and pecans and toss well. Stir in melted butter, eggs and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper and mix well.
5) Butter a large shallow baking dish and add corn bread dressing. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and baste dressing with 6 tablespoons of remaining stock. Bake for 10 minutes longer, then baste with remaining 6 tablespoons of stock. Bake for 20 minutes longer, or until golden brown on top and heated through. Yield: 12 servings.

Southern Corn Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Scott Peacock via Chef Recipes Made Easy


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups white cornmeal, preferably stone ground
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups buttermilk
4 large eggs, beaten


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Put butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and melt the butter in oven.
2) Meanwhile, mix cornmeal with cream of tartar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and eggs and stir to blend.
3) Remove skillet from oven and swirl to coat with butter. Pour melted butter into e batter and stir just until incorporated. Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake for about 35 minutes, or until crusty around edges and springy to touch. Invert corn bread onto a rack and let cool completely. Yield: 1 10-inch cake.


Ginny said...

This is such a really heartwarming story, I LOVED it! Growing up, our whole family loved cornbread, and it became a joke that one person always got the hiccups whenever she ate cornbread. Every time!

Jeannie said...

I baked cornbread once and it was so crumbly I can't cut it into pieces, I have to try this recipe soon..if it crumbles, then I'll dress it up:D

Pondside said...

What a sweet story. Somehow it's the sort of thing that renews my faith in our human nature.
My mum always made corn bread, which she called Johnny Cake, when she made baked beans. The Johnny Cake was always served warm, with butter and molasses.

Lenia said...

Whata great story!The bread seems delicious!Blessings,dear!

Alessandra said...

Wow, that cornbread looks so amazing I can smell it from here!

Nice to learn about Scott Peacock, I didn't know him.


lena said...

i love to try making cornbread one day and mary, that's a nice heartwarming story.

The Café Sucré Farine said...

What a sweet story! I believe people are just people and love to hear stories ilke this of walls broken down - love this cornbread, even without the stuffing!

Beverly@Beverly's Back Porch said...

The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of my favorite cook books. I really made terrible cornbread until I used this recipe. Now it's the only one I use. All the recipes, suggestions and ideas in the book are fabulous.

ImSoVintage said...

I love this story. Cornbread dressing is my favorite and I love finding new recipes for it. I will have to look for this cookbook. Thanks, Mary.

knancy said...

Now that is a real cornbread recipe! So glad to see it posted. No flour and stone ground cornmeal used. Brings the flavor of corn to the bread. Also, most foodie blogs never invert the cornbread - they just cut it in the pan - wrong! The sign of a pefect cornbread is being able to flip that cast iron skillet and have that bread slide right out onto a plate with a crunchy browned top! Serve if hot slathered with real butter and there is nothing better - except for a cup of buttermilk and cornbread later.

North of Wiarton & South of the Checkerboard said...

The story is wonderful. Thanks for choosing to share this one, Mary. Hope your day "shines".

Jenn said...

Such a lovely story of friendship! Thanks for sharing that with us, Mary. I love that I not only come here for great recipes, but for great background on most of them too. And how can you go wrong with corn bread and corn bread dressing?? YUM!

Vicki Bensinger said...

This is such a heartwarming story. How nice that they were both able
To help each other while Creating a special bond. I look forward to watching the video and trying the cornbread stuffing. Thank you for sharing this story. I will be sure to check out their cookbook.

Sue/the view from great island said...

This cornbread is going on next Thanksgiving's table. The video is amazing, thanks for sharing it. Scott Peacock is very charming, what a sweet story.

Kim said...

I'm not very familliar with Southern of USA cooking... I'm Canadian after all. But this looks really good!

Judy@SavoringToday said...

The cornbread is so enticing and perfect for gluten-free friends too. I never tire of hearing food stories and all the ways it is woven into life. Thanks for sharing this.

Big Dude said...

What a great story, but I have to admit when I read the title, I thought Scott Peacock was a type of bird you were serving the stuffing with.

Pam said...

Great story. The dressing sounds amazing. I love the pecan & cornbread combination.

Pam said...

Great recipes! I have this cookbook and it's one of my favorites. Interesting pair and great cornbread recipe!

Clint said...


Cornbread is manna. And your recipes are spot-on. Corn bread pecan dressing? Oh, yeah babe....

Juliana said...

Nice post Mary, and the cornbread looks fabulous! I yet have to try to bake cornbread.
Hope you are having a nice week :)

StephenC said...

When I first saw this I thought it would be a recipe for peacock. I wish it had been. I don't bake.

StephenC said...

It was a lovely story though.

Joanne said...

This is such a sweet story to go along with such a delicious dish!

Lizzy said...

What a gorgeous corn bread...quite a bit different than the one I make, so I'd love to give it a try. And the corn bread stuffing looks amazing, too (my sweet cornbread just wouldn't be right for it!). Thanks for sharing 2 winners~

Claudia said...

When we researched Edna Lewis I was so touched by their friendship and alliance. How wonderful that you have brought that forward. And the cornbread just looks like pure southern goodness.

teresa said...

oh my goodness, this is such a fun spin on dressing. i love the flavors!


I love the stories of unlikely friendships ... and when they come with delicious recipes ... even more fun. Thanks for sharing this one, Mary.


Fern said...

Thanks for visiting my page earlier! You have a beautiful collection of recipes and stories here, and I'm starting with this cornbread that already looks fantastic on its own. I've got some polenta in the pantry that hopefully will turn into cornbread soon! :)

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Thank you once more for giving us glimpses into the lives of the people behind the recipes and the books. Love this story and the recipes are solidly southern. And, thank you for the advice... you are a wise woman, Mary. I'll take good heed. blessings ~ tanna

My Little Space said...

Wow, what a cool story. That must be a very passionate cookbook. However, your corn bread looks as good.

Renee @ Tortillas and Honey said...

I love that you posted a corn bread dressing recipe and it's not the holidays! :-) This recipe looks so delicious. Bacon and pecans and corn bread. Yum. I think I might just make this and celebrate corn bread dressing all year round! :-)

Elaine said...

What a wonderful post. I have long liked Scott Peacock and his southern cooking and often heard him mention Edna when he was interviewed, but I never knew the story behind their relationship. His memoir is a must read.

Suzy said...

I love your recipe for cornbread. I've never put flour in mine and most recipes call for it. I do prefer yellow cornmeal to the white though.

Debra Jackson said...

A Beautiful story. I come from a large family of seven. My parents are from Rhine Georgia, corn bread was every meal, including breakfast with milk. My parents are in their nineties and still bake cornbread in that black skillet. Can't wait to share with them your story and recipe.

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