People have different approaches toward making cornbread. While some folks want their bread to taste sweet, my family would ridicule anyone who added sugar to their cornbread batter. Others swear by bacon fat versus butter or think cornbread is perfect only with the inclusion of corn kernels. Still others like it hot with the addition of jalapenos or another spicy ingredient. My family made plain cornbread - no sugar, no mix-ins, baked in cast-iron in the oven.
I know Dad might disapprove, but I haven't really landed squarely in any one cornbread camp. I've had lots of cornbread, and I have found different varieties appealing depending on the other foods with which it is paired. I can't forswear sweetened cornbread because while I've certainly had some lousy sweet cornbread, I've also had some that was quite good. And, while I always enjoyed the plainer cornbread I had at home, I've also tried different additives (including different fats) and have like them, too. Upon reflection, I think I must fall somewhere in the middle. I tend to make cornbread with butter and just a hint of sweetness (I prefer honey). And, depending on what else I'm serving, I enjoy the texture and added flavor of shallots, corn kernels, bacon, or jalapenos in some of my batches.
This is one of my favorite cornbread recipes and I think it pairs nicely with other dishes. I call it Cowgirl Cornbread, but it was inspired by a recipe in Food & Wine. I'm not sure why I call it that - it just seems to fit it in my mind. I made it this weekend to serve with the shrimp and sausage gumbo that our friends Dave and Wendy picked up for us at Cajun Kate's in Philadelphia. Aren't we lucky to have such nice friends?
Makes one 10-inch round loaf
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp honey
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp canola oil
6 - 8 (one bunch) scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, whisk the milk, honey, eggs, and 1/3 cup of oil. Mix the liquid separately to ensure it all binds together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined. Stir in the scallions.
Take the skillet out of the oven and pour in the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil, swirling to coat.
Pour the batter into the skillet and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.
After letting it cool slightly, you can turn it out onto a plate, or just serve hot out of the skillet, as I usually do.
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