Hot Water Cornbread and Other Southern Foods

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Nathan Hall learned what real Southern food is from his grandfather, a former Louisiana house slave. He tells about the key ingredients of plantation dishes like hot water cornbread, pecan pie and fruit cobbler.

Nathan Hall preserves the true legacy of Southern cooking by partnering elegant food presentations of his family’s authentic 150-year-old recipes with the vivid stories of their original plantation creation. For more than 30 years, he has brought his philosophy of “honest food for the soul” direct from his grandfather’s Louisiana house slave roots to the finest of aristocratic tables – impressing sophisticated international palates from London to Milan, Prince Philip to Tina Turner. He enjoys teaching people how to prepare food in the precious old ways.

Plantation Butter Rolls
Plantation Butter Rolls made with a flakey pie crust were one of Pa Bud's favorite treats, and they quickly became the cornerstone of Nathan Hall's business.
Serves 8

1 1/4 sticks salted butter
1 Lillie Mae's Good and Easy Double Pie Crust Dough (recipe below)
8 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon (about) ground cinnamon
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (not evaporated skim milk)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut 1 stick of butter into 9 equal rectangular pieces of butter. Spread 1 piece of butter over an 8-inch square baking dish.

Pat the pie dough into a square then cut the dough square in half to form two rectangles (this will make it easier to roll the dough into a larger rectangle). Roll out one pastry dough rectangle on a lightly floured work surface into a 10x8-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle into four smaller rectangles. Repeat with the remaining pastry dough to make eight dough rectangles total. Place 1 piece of butter down the center of each rectangle. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a pinch of cinnamon over the butter on each piece of dough. Starting at one long side, wrap the dough around the filling then fold in the short sides and continue rolling up as is done for a burrito. Arrange the butter rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish.

Pour the milk over the butter rolls. Dot the top of the rolls with the remaining 1/4 stick of butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Drizzle the vanilla over. Bake uncovered until the butter rolls puff and become golden brown on top and the milk mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Using a metal spatula, transfer each butter roll to a plate. Spoon some sauce over the butter rolls and serve hot.

DO-AHEAD TIP: The butter rolls can be made ahead at this point. Cool completely then cover and refrigerate overnight, or freeze up to 1 week. Re-warm uncovered in a 325°F oven before serving.

Lillie Mae’s Good and Easy Pie Crust

1 1/2  cups  all purpose flour
1/2   heaping teaspoon salt
1/4   teaspoon sugar
1/4   cup solid vegetable oil shortening
1/4   cup ice water, plus more if needed

Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl.  Dust a pastry cutter with some of the flour mixture, then cut in the shortening until small pieces remain.  Sprinkle the water over.  Using a fork, toss the mixture until the dough begins to form.  Squeeze a small amount of dough together to test for the right consistency.  If the dough is too crumbly, toss it with more water, one tablespoon at a time.  Gather the dough together and turn it out onto a work surface.

Recipe from Nathan Hall's forthcoming book Simple to Sublime: A Collage of Southern Cooking.

Nathan Hall will teach two cooking classes for Chefmakers

Learn the easy secrets to making an entire Southern meal with this gem of a cooking tool.
October 30 – Manhattan Beach

Join Chef Nathan Hall has he teaches you how to make a traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal using 150-year-old recipes.
November 6 -- Pacific Palisades
November 13 -- Manhattan Beach