Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who is Jay McCarthy?

Following my post for Jerk Pork Tenderloin, I wanted to share "Mrs. P's Cornbread" recipe from Traveling Jamaica with Knife, Fork, and Spoon, by Robb Walsh and Jay McCarthy. I am quite familiar with Robb Walsh's illustrious food writing career and own a few of his books. However, I wasn't sure about Jay McCarthy, and because this is his grandmother's recipe, I decided to do a little research.

Robb (left), Jay (right) and their map
from Traveling Jamaica with Knife, Fork, and Spoon, 1994.

Jay McCarthy was born in New York, raised in Jamaica, and educated in Texas. He is a former aerospace engineer turned chef, named Alamo City's Best Chef in 1994, received accolades at San Antonio's Cascabel Restaurant, received Critic's Choice Award at the Texas Hill Country Food and Wine Festival, a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, oversaw the kitchens of HEB Central Markets, supervised the train kitchen for the American Orient Express, appeared on Food Network's Ready...Set...Cook! (not familiar with that one?), consultant for the Texas Beef Council, the Nebraska Beef Council, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and was featured on PBS Phoenix series "Savor the Southwest," just to name a few. How have I not heard of this guy? 

Texan chef Jay McCarthy
Photo from an article in TheNational
entitled "Cowboy chef rides into Dubai"
promoting his week (May 1-5, 2013)
at the Hyatt Dubai's high-end steakhouse.

Today, Jay has given up the dusty Texas landscape, and that hilarious kinky mullet, for the ultra posh setting of Colorado's Vail Valley. According to, he is Corporate Chef for all Group970 restaurants, which include the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouses, and the Vail and Beaver Creek Blue Moose Pizza. I'll have to stop by next time I'm in Colorado! The company also has plans to expand in New Braunfels, Texas this summer, with a modern Italian/Texas influence restaurant - 188 South!

Congratulations, Jay! and thanks for this beautiful and personal Caribbean-style cornbread recipe!

Mrs. P's Cornbread

Serves 6-8

2 cups cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 red bell pepper, 1/4 inch diced
3 scallions, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and coconut milk. Slowly add this mixture to the cornmeal mixture; stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.

Melt the shortening in a 9" cast-iron skillet or "dutchy" (dutch oven) (I don't have a 9" cast iron skillet, so I used my 12" and it worked very well.) in the oven for 3 minutes, or until the shortening is very hot. Add the red bell pepper, scallions and coconut, and immediately pour in the batter. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake the cornbread for 30-35 minutes, or until it is lightly browned.

The cast iron skillet makes the best crisp crust!

No comments:

Post a Comment