Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Old New York in My Kitchen: Diner Corn Muffins

Have you ever found something that you didn't realize you had been looking for until the moment you found it? This is one of those stories.

About five years ago the diner in my parents little Brooklyn neighborhood closed; the family that owned it sold the property after 35 years. That's NY real estate for you. Locals - including my family - still lament it. It was the go-to place for brunch or lunch or when you didn't feel like cooking dinner, with a menu that was immune to food fads, yet always seemed to have what you wanted.

Anyway, since then I've found myself periodically trying recipes for corn muffins and corn bread, without really being clear on what I was looking for, but always feeling disappointed with the results. For whatever reason, I decided to give this recipe a try.

This was exactly the muffin I had been craving without even knowing it, albeit at about half the size of its diner kin. If you aren't familiar with the NY diner corn muffin, it's not the sort of thing you would eat with chili con carne or that you would consider adding corn kernals, cheese or jalapeno's to. NO way. The classic NY diner corn muffin is a little sweet, definitely corney, moist and appropriate for breakfast. When you ordered it you would be asked if you wanted it toasted (you did) and it would come to your table all buttery from being split (crown from base) and thrown onto the griddle in a pool of butter, most likely next to a pile of bacon.

Split the wrong way

There is something distinctly throw-back-ish about this classic diner corn muffin, and that is sort of why I like it. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was happily munching on one. Here is the recipe, which some kind soul posted on 

1-1/4c cornmeal
1c all purpose flour
1/3c packed brown sugar
1/3c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1c buttermilk
3/4c vegetable oil
Directions: In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugars, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat egg, buttermilk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen.

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