Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cornbread is what we'll eat in heaven

I'm sure of it.

Cornbread made from scratch (no Jiffy mixes please!) and baked in a cast iron skillet for that perfect golden crust and tender crumb, lightly kissed with butter and served piping hot. Or at room temperature. Or even cold (have you ever enjoyed a dish of crumbled cornbread with buttermilk?).

What I'd call cornmeal is sold here as polenta. Which is also a tasty dish but not the object of our focus today.

Recently while making cornbread I was inspired to take photos, thinking it would be fun to post a pictorial along with the recipe. Only problem is, my kitchen is like a cave. There is a window but since it looks out onto the covered patio, little sunlight actually penetrates the room so every photo I've taken in there looks sickly. No problemo! I moved my production out to the patio where I set up shop on one of Ivan's little wooden work tables (an unfinished wooden work table that I covered with a blue towel because I'm fancy like that). But at least the cornbread isn't a sickly shade of gray, which is how it photographed in the kitchen.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know all the trouble I went to just to bring you this if-you-squint-you-might-think-this-was-a-professional-tutorial.

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I've been known to use more of this particular ingredient)
more butter to brush on cornbread after it's done

(in whatever amounts you care to add)
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper (any color)
chopped jalapeƱo pepper
grated sharp cheese
fresh chopped herbs of your choice
cooked, crumbled bacon (and use the bacon grease in place of the butter!)

Set oven to 400°, put butter in cast iron skillet and set skillet in oven to preheat.

In one bowl whisk together the egg and milk.

In a second bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add any of the optional ingredients you've chosen to use (I've been throwing in some red bell pepper, onion and cheese lately).

Mix wet and dry ingredients together lightly with a fork just until combined.

Add melted butter (or bacon grease) and incorporate into batter. Pour batter into hot cast iron skillet. Enjoy the sizzle it makes!

Spread batter evenly. Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes until golden. When you take it out of the oven, spread another tablespoon or so of butter over the top. Cool slightly and cut into wedges.

Cornbread is great with so many things! White Chicken Chili and cornbread make a wonderful supper in the fall or winter. Last night we had creamed chicken over cornbread -- muy delicioso! [Note: I prefer this recipe for cornbread over the one I posted last April but both are tasty.] And of course what southern girl doesn't love soup beans and cornbread? But it's equally great with baked beans or green beans or...

Really, there's not much that cornbread doesn't go with. It's just a nice side to just about anything. So go ahead, make yourself some pan de maiz.

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