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Cornbread Toast with Chestnuts, Bird Funk and Pomegranate

Al Roker, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson: Cornbread Toast with Chestnuts, Bird Funk and Pomegranate + Chestnut, Celery Root and Apple Soup.TODAY, November 14, 2016.
Al Roker, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson: Cornbread Toast with Chestnuts, Bird Funk and Pomegranate + Chestnut, Celery Root and Apple Soup. TODAY, November 14, 2016.Rebekah Lowin / TODAY


Cornbread (makes one 9-x-5-inch loaf)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • Bird Funk (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped chicken skin
  • 1 cup ground chicken thighs
  • 1 cup small dried shrimp
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Chicken Liver Butter (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound chicken livers
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • For each serving of toast
  • Cornbread
  • Softened butter
  • Chicken liver and bird funk
  • 3 Roasted chestnuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon Pomegranate seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Chef notes

    For this recipe, toasted cornbread is dressed up with chicken liver butter, "Bird Funk" (a specialty at Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem), chestnuts and pomegranate seeds.



    1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Spray a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan with pan spray.
    2. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, Aleppo pepper, and salt together in a bowl.
    3. Whisk the sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, yolk, and melted butter together in another bowl until smooth.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in the corn.
    5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake until the bread is browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan and a skewer poked into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
    6. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the sides and turn out the loaf. You can cut it now (the slices will be messy) or cool completely.

    Bird Funk:

    1. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Spread out the chicken skin and freeze for 30 minutes. Put through a meat grinder or pulse in batches in a food processor to mince the skin. Scrape the skin out into a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the funk begins to brown, about 45 minutes. Keep cooking, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the funk is a deep, rich brown, about another hour and 15 minutes.
    2. The funk will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

    Chicken Liver Butter:

    1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter stops sputtering, add the livers, salt, allspice, clove, and thyme and sauté until the livers are cooked and browned but still light pink inside, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the bourbon, and stir, scraping up any browned bits. The butter, bourbon, and liver juices will become almost syrupy. Scrape everything into a food processor and cool to room temperature.
    2. Add the maple syrup and brandy to the livers. Turn on the processor and add the butter bit by bit, scraping down the sides as needed. Process until the butter is completely incorporated and the liver butter is smooth.
    3. If you want a more refined spread, pass it through a fine strainer. Otherwise, just transfer it to a container with a tight cover and refrigerate. It will keep for about 1 week.

    To serve:

    1. Take the liver spread and funk out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
    2. Cut ½-inch-thick slices of cornbread, spread very lightly with butter, and toast on a griddle or in a cast-iron skillet.
    3. Stir together the pomegranate seeds, chestnuts, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
    4. Slather each slice with about 2 tablespoons of the liver butter and top with the funk and pomegranate-chestnut mixture.