It’s getting to be a bit of a thing, this football-watching. I’ve really taken to baking or cooking up something delicious to share with my friends on Sunday, and it’s really nice to have something fun to look forward to on Sunday night – a nice cap to the weekend that lets you forget about Monday morning for a few more hours.
Two Sundays ago, Melissa was hosting, and she wanted to make a big pot of chili. She requested that I whip up some cornbread to go along with it, and of course I was game. But I didn’t want to stop at just plain old cornbread.
No, only the best in home-pickled and hand-imported ingredients will do. That is to say, I found a half-full jar of pickled peppers lurking in the fridge, and the Baby Loaf of Tillamook cheddar needed to be put to good use, because moldy Tillamook is not an option in my house.
Cornbread is really one of the easiest and tastiest all-American sides around, and fortunately, it’s a dish whose ingredients are generally pretty easy to come by in Paris, especially if you live near some kind of ethnic market. On this particular go-around, I ran out of medium-grind cornmeal and had to sub in some extra coarse stuff I had lying around. But you know what? The crunchy bits went over very well. So well, in fact, that I just pretended it had been part of the plan all along.
Because my recipe uses a good amount of butter, I got to use one of my very favorite kitchen tricks when I was preparing my baking dish: the leftover butter paper is ideal for greasing!
I love this for several reasons. One, it’s economical – the butter clinging to the paper was just going to get tossed anyway, plus you don’t have to waste a paper towel. Secondly, greasing the pan was always one of my least favorite parts about baking when I was a kid. It was messy, I always ended up with too much butter in lumps and it wouldn’t smear evenly, and then my fingers were all greasy and I had to wash my hands. With the nifty butter paper trick, my fingers stay clean and since there’s only a whisper of butter on there the heat from my hands is enough to melt it and it goes on smoothly and evenly. Hooray!
But back to the cornbread. I learned something while baking it. (Or if you want to be more specific, I was reminded of something I should have been less nonchalant (more chalant, then?) about.) And that thing is as follows:
When your baking vessel is filled to the brim with a chemically-leavened quickbread batter, like this:
It will most likely end up doing something like this:
And then you’ll have to clean the oven.
I really should have known better, and put some of the batter in a second pan, and in the recipe I’ve written below I’ve indicated a bigger pan, but sometimes you’re just so excited about the spicy, cheesy, buttery, down-home goodness of cornbread and football that you forget these things. And that’s why I’m here to help.
I like the texture contrast that comes from using some very coarsely ground cornmeal, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, feel free to use all medium-ground cornmeal. The amount of peppers could easily be increased, maybe even doubled, for real spice lovers. This makes a pretty big batch, good for feeding a crowd, but halving the recipe and baking it in a smaller 8” / 20cm square dish works fine, and it bakes in less time, too! (Start checking at about 25 minutes.)
3 c. / 15.25 oz. / 435 g all-purpose flour
2 c. / 13.5 oz. / 380 g cornmeal, half medium and half very coarse, if you’re so inclined
4 tsp. / 0.6 oz. / 18 g baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
½ tsp. / 0.1 oz / 3 g baking soda
1½ tsp. / 0.3 oz. / 10 g fine sea salt
½ c. / 4.4 oz. / 125 g brown sugar (packed if you’re using volume measurements)
1½ c. / 10 oz. / 285 g corn, cut from the cob, canned and drained, or frozen and thawed
2 c. / 450 ml buttermilk
4 large eggs
2 sticks / 8 oz. / 225 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 c. / 3.2 oz. / 90 g chopped pickled jalapeños
2 c. / 8 oz. / 225 g cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
- Preheat the oven to 395 F / 200 C. Grease a 13-by-9” / 33-by-23 cm or equivalent baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeals, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Blend together the brown sugar, corn, and buttermilk. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth. Blend in the eggs.
- Pour the blended wet ingredients and the butter into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When the batter is moistened, fold in the jalapeños and cheddar.
- Spread the batter evenly in the baking dish and bake until puffed and golden brown on top, 45-55 minutes.
- Cool, cut, and serve.
Serves about 15 people as an accompaniment to chili, soup, BBQ…
Originally published on Croque-Camille.