Couche Couche From The Kitchen Of RL Reeves Jr

Couche Couche From The Kitchen Of RL Reeves Jr

I grew up eating couche couche but it had a different name in rural Kentucky.

Up in Appalachia it’s called cornmeal mush but the backbone of the dish is identical. You fry up a pan of cornmeal batter in bacon drippings, and as it’s setting up you take a wooden spoon and stir it around a bit til it’s all crispy bits mixed with soft white bread.

When it’s done you spoon it into a big glass or bowl and top it off with fresh buttermilk. Bob White syrup may or may not be added at this point.

Depending on how backwoods you were raised this dish may have been called Confederate Cush as well.

I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a pone of cornbread sitting on my grandma Nellie Sullivan’s kitchen table. A quick break from field work often found the men folk grabbing a hunk of it and mashing it down into a bowl of boiled, rolled oats that was always at the ready.

We never went hungry.

On a recent trip to Kentucky I visited the Berea College Farm Store and scored a big sack of cornmeal gristed from corn grown just down the road.

It’s sublime.

Here’s my recipe for Couche Couche

1/4 c. fat, bacon
2 c. Meal, corn
2 t. Salt, kosher
1 t. Baking powder
3/4 c. Buttermilk
3.4 c. Water

* Heat cast iron pan with fat
* Combine dry ingredients
* Add wet ingredients, mix thoroughly
* Pour batter into hot pan
* Allow crust to form, approximately 10 minutes
* Stir a little for another 10 minutes
* Turn out into bowls

Cooking notes:

I keep a jar on my stovetop where all the bacon dripping are reserved
You may use self-rising cornmeal if you don’t have plain
Garnish the couche couche with molasses, maple syrup or Bob White
Add a little milk, cream or buttermilk to the bowls to make the couche couche nice and wet
I always like to put a nice fat pat of cow’s butter on top of the couche couche too

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