Friday, January 23, 2009

Bobby Flay Rebounds for Corn Muffin Throwdown!

After losing in my kitchen's red chili throwdown, Bobby Flay just begged for a rematch. "Really?" you say. "Well," I reply, "we didn't actually speak about it. But out of the kindness of my heart I decided to give him another chance."

Right after baking Dorie Greenspan's spicy corn muffins, I came across the Mesa Grill Blue Corn muffin recipe, and just had to bake them immediately! (Edit: I saw these muffins mentioned on Katrina's TWD post - thank you for the tip!)

Since I baked Bobby Flay's muffins right after Dorie's, and the recipes are so similar, I think conditions are ideal for another throwdown post!

(As a little bloggy aside, I'm posting this from out of town, and don't have access to all my photos, so if you come back in a couple of days, I'll have added some more pix)

Dorie Greenspan's Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

First up was Dorie Greenspan's muffin recipe. You can read my recent post about these muffins, and see the recipe here. To summarize my experience with Dorie's muffins: I made some changes in the interest of health (reduced the fat, upped the whole grain quotient) and stepped up the spice and heat a bit.

the verdict on Dorie Greenspan's muffins:

Recapping: We liked the muffins a lot, finding them very moist and tasty. They had lots of flavor, but were not really hot per se. A great recipe and one that I'd gladly make again (I have a zipper bag of the dry ingredients all pre-measured out for another batch).

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Blue Corn Muffins

You've probably already noticed that Mesa Grill muffins, pictured up top, are not blue. I love the thought of using blue cornmeal in muffins - I love blue corn chips - but I didn't locate any in the ordinary course of grocery shopping. My choice was: (1) to wait until I located blue cornmeal (if I even could locate any), or (2) bake the muffins with yellow cornmeal - the same cornmeal that I used for Dorie's, in fact. I had all the other ingredients, and there was a pot of black bean soup on the stove, so I went ahead and baked the muffins.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Trader Joe's Desert Mesquite Honey was perfect for these muffins. [edit: I saw two very similar versions of the Mesa Grill recipe online. I linked to one, above, but actually baked from the other, whose link I didn't save. It had 1T honey instead of granulated sugar. Other differences: 2 cloves garlic instead of 1, 1/4 cup diced onion in place of 3T. ]

- My jalapeno was very large - and very hot - so I used most but not all of it.

- [As with Dorie's muffins, I chopped the corn kernels roughly]

- I baked the muffins in the same silicone muffin pan as Dorie's. They cooked with a lovely golden brown bottom and edges but an incredible moist yet sturdy but not tough crumb.

- The kitchen was filled with the most amazing smell while these muffins were in the oven.

the verdict: Mesa Grill Corn Muffins

With the fresh and cooked ingredients, these muffins had lots of crunch and flavors. I love the complex flavor that the sauteed onion and garlic gave to the muffins. The slight hint of an outer crust was my favorite part. Well, and the taste! They were just about perfect, although I might experiment with adding a tiny bit of chili powder the next time.

As for the ever-pressing question of sweetness, these were not "sweet" corn muffins by Northern standards. There was a sweetness to them, however, and we thought 1 T was plenty of honey. I could see cutting it next time by a third or so. With all those savory ingredients stirred in, I personally wouldn't want them any sweeter.

Despite the quantity - and the undeniable heat - of the jalapeno I put in the batter, the muffins were not hot or spicy, just flavorful. My husband, who recently read an interesting article about hot peppers, reminded me that dairy products bind the capsaicin in the pepper, and so does bread. I guess that by stirring the jalapenos into the muffins (along with milk) they lose most of their heat, but transmit their pepper flavor.

Winner of the Throwdown

Although I previously described Dorie's savory corn muffins as "perfect", Bobby Flay was the indisputable winner of the throwdown! His muffins had great texture and flavor, and I will make them again in a heartbeat. Now I'm ready to track down some blue cornmeal to see if it improved the taste.

To be perfectly fair to the contesting muffins, I need to admit right up front that I made changes to both recipes, mostly to reduce the fat content of the muffins. I believe the fat content ended up roughly equivalent, as I cut some butter in Dorie's and used skim milk and egg substitute in Bobby's. I meant to use part whole-wheat flour in Bobby's muffins as I had done in Dorie's, but I forgot when the time came. I don't think that would have changed out vote, however, and I intend to make the Mesa Grill muffins with part whole wheat flour next time.

I'm glad that Bobby redeemed himself on the rematch!


Megan said...

I love it - another throwdown! So Bobby actually won this time.... yay for him!

Anonymous said...

I love these throwdowns. I am making chili for dinner tonight (winter came back today with a vengeance). Do I have time for these muffins? Maybe so...

natalia said...

Well now I know what to bake for the next time I make chili ! Thank you Nancy ! They must be great ! Ciao !

Audrey said...

I would love the onion and garlic in these...they look wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I love these throwdowns! I'll have to try Bobby's muffins.

Katrina said...

Need I say again, I LOVE Bobby's Blue Corn Muffins--actually ate two in fact AT Mesa Grill in NYC. I can't find blue cornmeal either--guess I'll have to try online. I don't know if it makes much difference, but I want those SAME muffins again. So awesome that your tried the recipe, as I haven't yet and what a fun throwdown! Did I mention that I LOVE the Bobby Corn Muffins. Just making that clear! And thanks for the shoutout to my blog! ;) Let us know what you think when you use whole wheat, I'd love the extra nutrition.

dharmagirl said...

as i've recently become addicted to *throwdown,* i love your posts! these muffins sound delightful! thanks for sharing:)

Cathy said...

Whew! Bobby finally wins a throwdown -- sweet, sweet redemption for him. I loved Dorie's muffins, but it wasn't quite "I'll never eat another savory corn muffin again" kind of love. I am more than game to try a new recipe, and with Bobby being the clear winner of your throwdown, you've made it easy for me to decide which one. I think I already have everything I need to make these -- added bonus!

Just so I'm clear -- you subbed the mesquite honey for the sugar called for in the original recipe, right (you didn't add it in addition to the sugar, I'm assuming)?

Reeni said...

Yay for Bobby!! They sound really good!! Look forward to the pictures!!

Anonymous said...

Desert Mesquite Honey sounds interesting! Does it have any savory notes in addition to the sweetness?

I have got to start learning to make lower fat substitutions, but I'm always afraid I'l mess up the recipe if I do!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought of adding mesquite flour to your blue corn muffins instead of mesquite honey, like John Sharpe did in the Plate magazine July 08?


Steph said...

It was so nice to give Bobby another chance! Loved that throwdown!!

Unknown said...

I love the throwdown! And your muffins (all of them) look amazing.

NKP said...

I am so glad that you gave Bobby a second chance! I love that he seems to be into big flavour like you and I are.
Loving your throwdowns!

AmyRuth said...

Just love looking at all your posts. You are one busy girl. I'm sure your family.....even the canine ones are so happy with all the good eats!