Skillet Cornbread – The 10-Year Rotation

Cornbread 1

Cornbread is a side dish that’s part of our New Year’s Day dinner table every year. That’s because it goes so well with black-eyed peas, which I have been eating almost every New Year’s Day since I was old enough to hold a spoon. Hoppin’ John, the iconic dish that is supposed to bring you good luck throughout the year if you eat it on New Year’s Day, is a family tradition with my family. I can’t speak to how much good luck it brings – on the few occasions I have not had black-yes on New Year’s Day, I have not noticed that much difference. However, black-eyed peas cooked with a lot of pork are pretty tasty.

Cornbread 2

It’s no secret among my friends and family that I love trying out new recipes. We finally settled on a black-eyed pea recipe several years ago – 1 pound of black-eyed peas, an onion or two, and two pork knuckles cooked together in water until falling apart. This year, however, I decided to mix things up and made something called Hoppin’ Juan from the Local Palate magazine instead. Once in awhile I make a dish that, although it might turn out really good, you’ll never see on this blog. That’s because they take ALL DAY or even longer to prepare. If I don’t have time to do that I know you don’t. The Local Palate is a beautiful magazine that I subscribed to until I realized that almost all of the recipes are the “cheffy” type (and this coming from someone who went to culinary school – life happens) that take too long or that require scores of meticulously prepped ingredients you probably don’t have in your kitchen and will never use again. Well, Hoppin’ Juan was all of that and more. It was composed of Sea Island Red peas (ordered from Anson Mills), cooked with chorizo and Carolina gold rice, and served with a home-made salsa verde. It was delicious. Would I make it again? Probably not, because it was so labor intensive. We’ll be back to our usual next year.

Cornbread 3

I’m still working on finding the perfect cornbread recipe.  My husband jokes about the 10-year rotation we have on recipes. Okay, everyone needs a hobby. One of mine happens to be trying new recipes. This cornbread is pretty close to becoming “the one.” It’s made in a smoking hot cast iron pan greased up with plenty of lard or bacon grease before adding the cornbread batter. The result is a crispy shell with delicious corny cornbread taste. (That sentence would never get past our editors at work, but one of the things I love about blogging is that I can write what I’m thinking, even if it’s not perfectly, grammatically correct.)

Cornbread 4

Skillet Cornbread

6 Servings

I make this this recipe with lard because I always have it on hand. However, you can also use bacon grease, butter, or even shortening. You could also bake it in an 8-inch square pyrex dish if you don’t have a cast iron skillet with good results, but you will not get the crunchy crust on the outside

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons fat of choice (lard, bacon grease, butter, or shortening)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to mix.

Place the egg and buttermilk in a separate small bowl and beat to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. If the mixture looks a little dry add up to 1/4 cup of more buttermilk.

Heat a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet on high heat. Add the lard to the pan and melt. Add the batter to the pan, spread evenly and immediately place the pan in the hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Adapted from Saveur Cooks Authentic American by the Editors of Saveur Magazine

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Green Chilie Corn Muffins

Chilie Muffins 1

My husband and I just returned from a short trip to Nassau, Bahamas.  Unlike most of our vacations that have purpose, usually visiting friends or family, this trip was just for us, with the primary goal of not doing much more than enjoying some delicious meals and staring at the ocean.

Beach_Bar

We accomplished that goal.  So much so, that it never occurred to us to check the Washington, D.C. weather until we were at the airport awaiting our return flight.  Imagine our shock when we discovered snow and negative-number wind chills were in the forecast.  Ugghh!  Don’t get me wrong, I love snow and winter weather, preferably when I am inside, in front of a fire.  But it was a bit too much when compared with the sun and sea, the bright blue sky, and the temperatures in the 70s that we had so quickly become accustomed to. 

Nassau_Beach

Reality check – it’s still winter, Jeannine.

For me, comfort foods come to mind when the snow flies, and that usually means some sort of soup.  I love them all – Thai chicken, chili, vegetable beef, broccoli and cheese, the varieties are endless.  Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of soup on a cold day, especially when accompanied by some fresh homemade bread, rolls or savory muffins.

I made these muffins to go with black-eyed peas on New Years Day, but they will go well with almost any type of soup.  Last New Years I attempted gluten-free baking for the first time by substituting gluten-free flour for regular flour in my normal cornbread recipe.  The results were anything but spectacular, but my wonderfully supportive husband choked that cornbread down until it was finished.  My gluten-free baking has improved considerably since that first effort, and I was really pleased with the way these muffins turned out.  I hope you like these muffins as well as I do.  If you make them, please send me a comment and let me know what you served with them.

Chilie Muffins 2

Gluten-Free Green Chilie Corn Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

 I have found that I get better results by mixing my own gluten-free flour blend than when using a commercial product off-the-shelf, but in a pinch I use the King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour.  If you want to make your own, I used 2 cups white rice flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour or starch, and 1/2 cup potato starch.  This makes quite a bit, but stores well in the freezer.  This recipe worked well with palm sugar, but you can use granulated if that’s what you have on hand. 

Nonstick cooking spray for the pan

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup palm sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), melted

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 4-ounce can (about 2 tablespoons) chopped green chilies

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper cupcake liners. 

In a large bowl thoroughly whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a separate medium bowl whisk the eggs until frothy.  Whisk in the butter and buttermilk and mix then stir in the green chilies.

Pour the liquid mixture into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  The cups should be almost full with a mound in the center. 

Bake the muffins 16-18 minutes, until golden brown. Immediately transfer the muffins to a wire rack, cooling them on their sides. 

Slightly adapted from Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond by Linda J. Amendt