Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Corn Dodgers!

One of my all-time favorite movies is True Grit.  Not the 2010 remake, but the 1969 original with John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn.


The only thing Rooster Cogburn liked better than shootin' and drinkin' was eating the "corn dodgers" that his cook, Chen Lee, cooked for him. In fact, he rode for days eating nothing but corn dodgers, and even used them for shooting practice.

So, let's make some, shall we?

First, we're going to start with Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina. It's corn made the way the very first people learned to eat corn, treated in a way known as "nixtamalization."

From Bob himself:

Masa, the Spanish word for “dough,” is the traditional dough used to make corn tortillas. It is made with hominy, or dried corn kernels that have been cooked and soaked in limewater, which is ground into masa. Masa harina (“dough flour”) is flour made from dried masa.

The nixtamalization process (soaking in limewater) was developed in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago. It loosens the hulls from the kernel and softens the corn for grinding by breaking down the glue-like component called hemicellulose. This process also changes the structure of the corn, freeing the nutritionally rich niacin so that it can be easily absorbed into the digestive track. In addition, calcium is gained from the lime used as an alkali. The nixtamalization process also balances the amino acids, accessing more usable protein from the corn.

Masa harina is most commonly used to make tortillas, but it is also featured in other delicious dishes including tamales, pupusas, and arepas.  

I have always loved corn tortillas, but wanted to make my own from nixtamalized corn. A couple years ago, I bought a bag of Masa Harina and a tortilla press...you know, one of these:


Never could get the hang of it! It sits in the corner of the counter, collecting dust.

But I have found a great use for masa harina corn meal...Corn Dodgers!

Super-Complicated RECIPE


  • Corn Meal
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)
Mix Masa Harina with warm water until doughy, add salt if desired.  Sorry, I don't measure things, you'll just have to figure it out.

Use the dough to make balls, cakes, pancakes, or whatever you want to call them, they are all "corn dodgers" to me and Rooster Cogburn!

Simply cook them in a pan.  I'm sure John Wayne would prefer bacon fat, but butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or whatever you like will work.  You don't need much, if any.

Here's the batch I made tonight (with diced onion and whole sweet corn).

Corn Dodgers!



The variations are endless, I suppose. You can put whole sweet corn in the batter and make corn fritters, chopped up zucchini, jalapeno peppers, cheese, fresh herbs...but just don't expect them to keep well in your saddle bag as you ride across hostile "injun" territory.



Later,
Tim 





55 comments:

  1. Reminds me a lot of the Australian stockman's damper (or bush bread) that he took with him in the Outback when mustering. They learnt this trick from the aboriginals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_bread

    It is amazing how the same traditions turn up all over the world. Flatbreads are made the same way all over the world. Only the grain sort used is different.

    Jo tB

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  2. The look like hush puppies!

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    1. lol, that's why I made this batch in different forms, just so you could see something you are familiar with.

      I wasted many years making hushpuppies with corn meal and wheat flour, then deep-frying in Wesson Oil. Almost every "corn-based" society throughout the Western hemisphere converted to wheat flour in the 18-1900's, such a shame.

      Google "native american food recipes" you will see lovely foods such as:

      Indian Fry Bread (from the Pioneer Woman):
      3 cups All-purpose Flour
      1/2 teaspoon Salt
      3 teaspoons Baking Powder (slightly Rounded Teaspoons)
      3/4 cups Milk
      Water As Needed To Get Dough To Come Together
      Vegetable Shortening Or Lard For Frying

      Yum, yum! I wonder if you need "reservations" to eat these?

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    2. Indian Fry Bread? Here we'd call it bannock, although why there's baking powder in the recipe I dunno.Good with moose.Or fresh-caught fish. Nom Nom. Traditional bush food for sure. Flour & lard keep well on the trail. Milk optional.

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    3. "Traditional bush food for sure."

      Traditional Hudson Bay Trader/Trapper fare, maybe, but it was certainly a nail in the coffin for First Nations. Just a bit slower-acting than the "Smallpox Blankets" we gave to our 'problem savages.'

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  3. I know this is going to sound stupid but you're talking about lime as in hard water rather than lime as in fruit?

    Nicole

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  4. Nicole, lime as in hard water. Read about nixtamalization here.

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  5. Thanks Gemma

    Nicole

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    1. That was a good question and causes much confusion.

      The crunchy taco shells I normally buy list only three ingredients: Corn meal, salt, lime. I thought for the longest time they meant the citrus fruit 'lime'. Then started reading about nixtamalization.

      I'm still not sure if the shells and tortillas you buy in the store are nixtamalized or not, hard to get a straight answer.

      One thing to remember about the nixtamalized Masa Harina, it is pre-cooked, so basically you just need to heat it up. Whereas corn 'grits' or 'polenta' are raw, ground corn that needs to be cooked.

      But, without the soaking in lime, corn grits will always be an inferior product due to the nutrients being "locked-up". This 'short-cut' results in a condition called 'Pellagra" when you try to feed corn to people as if they were cattle:

      From Wiki:

      Pellagra can be common in people who obtain most of their food energy from maize, notably rural South America, where maize is a staple food. If maize is not nixtamalized, it is a poor source of tryptophan, as well as niacin. Nixtamalization corrects the niacin deficiency, and is a common practice in Native American cultures that grow corn. Following the corn cycle, the symptoms usually appear during spring, increase in the summer due to greater sun exposure, and return the following spring. Indeed, pellagra was once endemic in the poorer states of the U.S. South, such as Mississippi and Alabama, where its cyclical appearance in the spring after meat-heavy winter diets led to it being known as "spring sickness" (particularly when it appeared among more vulnerable children), as well as among the residents of jails and orphanages as studied by Dr. Joseph Goldberger.[10]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra

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    2. I bet those would cook up without oil nicely on something like a George Foreman grill. A bit more quickly, too, since top and bottom would be heated at the same time.

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    3. Just can't bring yourself to throw that thing away can you?

      I use my waffle maker to make hashbrowns, so I guess you can use your Foreman Grill to make corn dodgers!

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    4. LOL "A couple years ago, I bought a bag of Masa Harina and a tortilla press... Never could get the hang of it! It sits in the corner of the counter, collecting dust"

      I looked up some tortilla recipes and it doesn't look too difficult. Thanks for bringing this topic up! I never would have tried it.



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    5. Tim, right! It just works too well. My wife Amy is more creative than I am with it. Here's a picture of a sweet potato 'pancake' she made for us: http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PlantPaleo-Meal-5.jpg

      As if eating pancakes made with sweet potato isn't weird enough, ours have grill marks. :) I won't be going door-to-door or anything, but I've been pretty impressed with the thing.

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    6. I watched a Mexican street food program and the woman making the tortillas put the dough between two sheets of plastic, seemed thicker than Saran wrap. Then pressed. When the tortilla, (I guess it was but much bigger than what I buy here) was fully pressed, she carefully removed the plastic and put it on the hot whatever it is called. Maybe it would help if someone using the tortilla press would try this? I don't know. Don't make tortillas.

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    7. I've made tortillas many times. The plastic in my case comes from a ziplock bag court along its sides. The hot thingy is often a coral, but a cast iron pan works great.

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    8. Gawd awful autocorrect: cut, not court, and comal, not coral. Also, tortilla making is an art. Anyone can make a passable tortilla, but in the hands of an artist, a tortilla trancends.

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    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    10. The only way I could make them even passable was to line the tortilla press with heavy plastic, then carefully peel off and drop into hot oil. They tasted great, but were really oily. I've seen the videos of people making them by hand where they turn out perfect and uniform every time. Must just take practice and getting the dough exactly right.

      I could eat real tortillas and beans every day. No problem.

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    11. A lot of it is getting the dough right, but getting the right heat is important. Too hot and the tortilla isn't cooked all the way through without over cooking the outside. I'm not sure if not hot enough. I've seen recommendations to use pans of two different temperatures.

      The best store bought brand I've found is El Milagro. Whole foods has their 365 brand in the refrigerated section that is also good. Both benefit from being heated on a pan. They are Mexican style. I don't care for Salvadoran style which are popular here.

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    12. The recipe I used a long time ago for tortillas used two pans of different temperature. I had a friend bring me a tortilla press from Mexico. It too is gathering dust on the back shelf. Along with the pasta roller!

      The Salvadoran type are the pupusas. Thick and much smaller size. They may call them tortillas but they aren't!

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  6. In Venezuela, where I grew up, they have arepas and empanadas made with harina pan. The arepas are round and you pan fry them and then bake for about 15 minutes. Split them and fill with carne mechada and queso blanco or there were other filings too. Empanadas were like a turnover filled with spice meat and fried. They were a staple. You had to be careful not to over mix the dough as they can become tough and also crack.

    With Maduro in office, the masa is hard to come by!

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  7. Mmmm.... Pan fried in butter and then topped with honey and cinnamon and walnuts... A little bit Greece and a little bit Mexico!

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  8. Don't forget how great Kim Darby was in that movie!

    Debbie :)

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  9. I followed your suggestion Tim, and Googled Native American Food Recipes and there was a link to Photos. Clicking through to any flatbread recipe I note that they all called for "all purpose flour" meaning wheat flour and that wasn't available before the settlers came and brought the wheat with them. So I think tortillas remained true to the original recipe and that fried bread became "colonised" by the settlers into using wheat flour instead of corn flour.

    Jo tB

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  10. My husband is from Mexico & is employed as a chef in a Mexican restaurant. We're lucky to live in the Chicago area where we can buy fresh masa, warm! He uses fresh masa for the restaurant & relies on a couple of women from the old country who are skilled at tortilla making. Tortillas from fresh masa are amazing.

    Michelle

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    1. Is your husband a chef at one of the Bayless restaurants? I ask because I heard that Bayless uses fresh masa and his tortillas are incredible. I love Mexican food and eat at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo every time I am in Chicago. Is there another Mexican restaurant I should try? No fair that Chicago gets the good stuff!

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    2. No, he is in the suburbs. We are both fans of Mercadito, and Cantina Laredo, if you have not tried thise yet. In Chicago proper.

      Michelle

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    3. Thanks for the recommendations. It's funny hat the menu of many, if not most, Mexican restaurants are nearly the same. It's all in the execution and the quality of the ingredients. Mercadito looks very interesting. I like that it has 15+ mezcals, including pechuga, which I love.

      For the uninitiated, it's a liquor usually made with chicken carcasses:

      http://imbibemagazine.com/all-about-pechuga/

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  11. Didn't know where to put this question. Do you think antibiotics hold a place in gut repair? If you have something like h pylori, the quickest way to get rid of it is antibiotics. I am not even sure you CAN get rid of it without antibiotics.

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    1. Tate, the role of H. pylori has become controversial. The rate of infection in some parts of the world is very high In the USA it is low. The question being posited is 'is H. pylori a natural part of the stomach microbiome or is it a pathogen?'

      Is it like those Treponemas in the Hadza or is it a total bad guy?

      Lots of people have asymptomatic infection. Does this result in gastric mucosal atrophy? If it does then it's bad. I don't know. Maybe Gemma can dig up some articles on H. pylori endoscopic information where screening indicates that yes, it's a baddie. Or no, it's only sometimes a baddie.

      The Australian research M.D. gave himself a bolus dose and got sick. Cured himself with antibiotics. But what happens when it's not a bolus dose and it's just a minor participant in the variety of bacteria present in the stomach?

      Even with triple drug therapy, they've had to change it this way and that due to resistance that has developed. Not everyone who is symptomatic, gets triple drug therapy is cured. And what about re-infection? ARe some people more prone to re-infection than others?

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    2. I don't know the answers to those questions, but there are a lot of people in my family with ulcers, and h. Pylori seems to cause them. Also, they correlate with intestine inflammation, deceased stomach acid, and reduced mucus lining. I am on a course of antibiotics that is supposed to help solve chronic sinus issues and bad breath. .. and happens to kill h. Pylori. It has cleared up both in less than a week after trying everything else for over two years.

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    3. Which is to say, I am willing to take my chances. And i will take extra salt, bismuth, and lactoferrin going forward to reduce the chances of it coming back.

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    4. @Tate

      Neither I have answers to these questions.

      But why don't you use oil pulling? It should help with the symptoms you describe, and against (excess / virulent) H. pylori too.

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    5. @ Gemma

      "Thus, foodborne yeasts originating from the environment, which were once considered as harmless microorganisms when ingested through fermented foods such as dairy products[38,89], including kefir and kumis[94,95], could now be pinpointed as a public health problem source."

      Oh that's going to set off some alarm bells in some folks ..

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    6. @wildcucumber

      LOL

      It already did. Exactly 17 minutes between your comment and the first alarm email from someone else to me...

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    7. I wonder if that is why bismuth makes antibiotic treatment of pylori more effective. The bismuth knocks down the Candida, allowing the antibiotic to work on the pylori. The only other theory I have seen is somehow the pylori iron metabolism is disrupted.

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    8. Tate, where does the H. pylori get the iron? From the human body via the ulcerations or could it get iron from food in the stomach?

      Possible that not consuming iron rich foods while taking bismuth is maybe a good idea?

      I wonder if ferritin is high when a person has H. pylori.

      Anyway, I found this and am now reading it. Might answer some of the questions. http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/1/39.full.pdf

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    9. "where does the H. pylori get the iron?"

      Maybe it does not have to go too far...

      Candida albicans iron acquisition within the host (2009)

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    10. Gemma, what gives you the idea that C. albicans loves to share? It gets iron for itself. Now, any idea where H. pylori gets iron from?

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    11. Just was reading this when there was a 'boom' and my electricity cut for a couple of seconds.......... haven't finished reading it yet.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC415606/
      Bismuth and H. pylori etc.

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    12. @Gabriella

      As you say, just an idea. If they are symbionts, they might exchange some services.

      H. pylori steals iron similar way:
      Unique Host Iron Utilization Mechanisms of Helicobacter pylor
      "Using iron-deficient, chemically defined medium, we determined that H. pylori can bind and extract iron from hemoglobin, transferrin, and lactoferrin. H. pylori can use both bovine and human versions of both lactoferrin and transferrin, contrary to previous reports. Unlike other pathogens, H. pylori preferentially binds the iron-free forms of transferrin and lactoferrin, which limits its ability to extract iron from normal serum, which is not iron saturated."

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    13. Gemma, I think the big problem when people have experienced changes in the gastric mucosal lining, isn't whether they have candida or H. pylori or whatever (and there seem to be dozens of species of bacteria that live in the stomach) but that the cellular changes make them permanently susceptible to further pathological change since these areas are not able to protect themselves from the stomach acid that is stiill being produced.

      http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/176036-overview

      So there's the problem: how to deal with that situation.

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    14. @Gabriella

      Here a paper on another fungal friend Aspergillus using its vacuoles to store iron:
      The interplay between vacuolar and siderophore-mediated iron storage in Aspergillus fumigatus. (2012)

      How to heal damaged gastric lining? Raw potato/carrot/cabbage juice? Nettle tea?

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    15. Gemma, you are not understanding. The cell types that grow over damaged gut lining are not the kind of cells that were there before.
      http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/720029

      In Coeliac disease the blunting of the papillae is permanent. So best to diagnose early, if possible. Otherwise there will be lifelong impairment of some nutrient absorption. When it's gone it's gone in other words. It doesn't grow back.

      So basically, these people would be susceptible to your favourites for life. What to do about it?

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    16. Gemma - controversial in some circles due to those darn rat studies, but comfrey would be one possibility.

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    17. An interesting interview with Dr. Blaser covering many topics discussed on this blog. There is a little discussion of H Pylori to tie it in here.

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  12. Hi Tim. Way late post, but I had an idea about your corn dodgers the other day. Just for fun we took the basic dough and wrapped it around an applegate hot dog, and threw it on the grill. It turned out way better than I had expected! It was crunchy on the outside, but the juices from the meat soaked in the doughy inside. I was pretty amused with my "corn dodger dog" idea (which I'm sure is 100% original btw ;) ), that I thought I would share it. Here's a picture of how it turned out: https://instagram.com/p/2Lp3o7GdKo/

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    1. Wow, looks awesome! I'll have to try that. The whole salad looks really good!

      And who would have thought "McSack" was a hot chick who is into food porn and cooks the most unbelievable stuff?

      Thanks! Great pictures!

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    2. I'm sorry but that just looks wrong! Or maybe considering the blog it fits in perfectly! 😉

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    3. "Corn Dodger" is a perfect name for it, eh?

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  13. Lol. "bbmcsack" is my er.. lady partner. But that's ok, she is a real looker. :) McSack is a hyphenated combo of our last names. I had a feeling after the fact that it would be confusing. I'll put my future posts as "RMcSack" and she can do "BBMcSack" (BB meaning "bloodbath" ;) ) if she ever pops up on here. Anyway, been a big fan of PS and thanks to you and Nikoley, I've added a lot more grains and legumes back after doing low carb Primal Blueprint for a couple years. Love the site. Keep doing great work. :)

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    1. lol, indeed! You are a lucky guy!

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