Sam Beall, the adored California Culinary Academy and French Laundry trained proprietor of Blackberry Farm, died tragically in a skiing accident on February 25th. The 39-year-old father of five was a true visionary, turning his parents’ Walland, Tennessee farm into a world class inn and culinary destination, gathering three James Beard Awards and the designation of Best Hotel for Food Lovers by Bon Appetit magazine along the way. Beall’s cookbooks and his rustic, loving approach to food has provided great inspiration for me over the years. I am sharing a slightly modified version of his recipe for Skillet Cornbread from The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm cookbook along with my recipe for Blackberry Quick Jam. They go beautifully together, but if you want to enjoy it the way he loved to, as explained in the above mentioned book, split a piece and fry it on a griddle, then drizzle with buttermilk and sorghum (a sweetener favored by Southerners, most similar to honey).
Sam Beall’s Skillet Cornbread
makes one 9-inch round cornbread, serving 6-8
- 2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Pour egg mixture into cornmeal mixture and stir just until combined and smooth.
Place butter and canola oil in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until butter is melted and oil is shimmering, stirring to combine. Immediately pour in batter and place in oven, baking until cornbread is firm and golden brown on top, about 23-27 minutes. Serve warm!
Blackberry Quick Jam
makes about 1 and 3/4 cups jam
- 3 6-ounce containers fresh blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to bubble and berries start to release their juices, about 6-8 minutes. Carefully and completely mash berries with a potato masher and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until liquids have thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes more.
Cool to room temperature and serve, or place in clean glass jars and store in refrigerator for a week to ten days.