Few things make for a better dinner during the coldest days of winter than a big, hearty bowl of chili. Whether you prefer your chili without beans, with only beans, with chicken, beef or over spaghetti, this dish is the definition of comfort food. But after you eat a few spoonfuls of chili, it’s nice to have a little something-something to break up the monotony of eating stew. Enter: cornbread, the lowkey star of winter sides.
The sweetness, lightness and crumbliness of an amazing homemade cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to a chunky, tomato-based chili recipe, as it contrasts the soup with nearly every single element. And we think the best way to make cornbread is to utilize a cast iron skillet.
Best known for searing steaks and cooking frittatas to perfection, the cast iron skillet can do a whole lot more than you think it can, including baking cornbread. The heavy weighted pan leads to crispy crusts and exteriors and a pillowy inside that is impossible to resist. Add in some cheese and jalapenos for a little extra surprise, and you’re good as gold.
For our cornbread recipe, you need to start off by combining cornmeal with flour, baking powder and salt. The flavor comes from nutty browned butter (made in your cast iron skillet!), buttermilk, brown sugar and mix-ins like scallions, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. This is a seriously jam-packed cornbread, after all. Then, you just bake it for 30 to 40 minutes and serve it topped with butter or honey for extra deliciousness. Serve alongside your chili, barbecue or any more of the best recipes for game day.
- 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (substitute milk if you don’t have buttermilk)
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 green onions, diced (just the white part)
- 1-2 fresh jalapeños, minced (seeded if you don’t like the heat)
- 1 cup mild or medium Cheddar, grated
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375F.
Step 2: Place an 11- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet on the stovetop and melt the 12 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan to coat the sides and bottom until the butter turns a deep nut brown and the foam subsides. Watch it carefully; you do not want it to burn. Pour the butter into a small bowl and let it cool slightly. Do not wipe out the skillet.
Step 3: In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup of the cornmeal along with 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
Step 4: In the small bowl with the cooled butter, whisk together the 1 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 eggs.
Step 5: Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended, then stir in the 1/4 cup corn, 2 diced green onions, 1-2 minced jalapeños and 1 cup grated Cheddar.
Step 6: If the skillet is no longer warm (cast iron should retain its heat), heat it up on the stovetop along with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pour the batter into the skillet. Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the edges pull away from the sides, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before slicing and serving warm with butter and honey.
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