Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boone Tavern - Berea Kentucky

Recently, my husband and I went to Lexington, Ky. for a long weekend.  While we have traveled I-75 many times, we finally decided to stop at historic Berea, Kentucky.  Berea, Kentucky is the home of Berea College which is a wonderful liberal arts, non-tuition based college.  It holds some personal history for me as well.  Berea is the childhood home of my mother and her father was the college "handy-man"  back in the 30's. 

While growing up, I had always heard about Boone Tavern and just assumed it was some sort of tourist trap.  I could not have been more wrong.  Not only is it beautiful but the food was wonderful. 

After entering the hotel and being seated, our waitress, who was a graduate of Berea College, brought us one of the Inn's most famous dishes.... spoon bread.  This can best be described as a cornbread souffle.  I do not generally care for cornbread but this was delicious! 

Boone Tavern Spoon Bread
Yields approximately 8 servings

4 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 tbsp. softened, 3 tbsp. melted)
3 cups milk
1 1⁄4 cups finely ground white cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine salt
2 eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease a 9" round cake pan with some of the softened butter. Cut out a parchment paper circle to fit inside the pan, nestle it into the bottom, and grease the paper with the remaining softened butter. Set the prepared pan aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, whisking occasionally, over high heat. While whisking, pour in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cornmeal, for about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to let the cornmeal mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer the cornmeal mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the remaining butter, baking powder, salt, and eggs and mix on medium speed until uniform and aerated, about 15 minutes. Pour cornmeal batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

After enjoying the spoon bread and possibly the best iced tea that I've ever had, we ordered another of the Boone Tavern's specialties.... Chicken Flakes in a  Bird's Nest.  This is basically a rich creamed chicken in a fried potato nest. 

This dish is a good as it looks.  We finished the meal with a couple of different desserts.  I had a mixed berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and my husband had their banana bread pudding with a caramel sauce.  Oh my!  It was like eating elegant french toast. 

If you not been to Berea and have the opportunity to stop.... do so!  The Tavern is spectacular and the rest of the town is just as special.  There are fabulous artisans at every turn.  So if you find yourself heading down Interstate 75 between Lexington and the Tennessee state line, make sure and stop at Berea.  You'll not be dissapointed.  We'll not miss that stop ever again!

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