I know I whine a lot about not being ready for summer to end and definitely not being ready for cold weather. It’s what I do, and it probably won’t change any time soon. But in my defense, when cold weather hits, I know enough to put away the linen dresses and gazpacho. Frozen windshield in the morning? Time for winter food. In fact, I’d been hoarding Matt Moore‘s new book for awhile because his jalapeño cornbread was calling my name. I couldn’t seem to get past that recipe; and, somehow, cornbread seemed like a cold-weather food to me.
Now that I’ve made it—to sop up the first batch of chili of the season—I’m certain it’s a cold-weather food. This version is so dense and rich and cake-like and corn-y—and so impossible to stop eating—that you really only want to make it when you can slip into some cozy (and stretchy) sweatpants. Am I the only one who’s grateful they’ve become a fashion DO? Even my husband—whose rants about bread being a waste of calories have become like background noise to me and the rest of the gluten addicts in the house—ate (way) more than one piece.
Luckily, there was just enough left for the next morning’s breakfast. After I defrosted the windshield.
No two things define Southern cooking better than cast iron and cornbread. Cornbread is the perfect complement to sop up hearty stews, or served on its own as a supplementary starch. Though you’ll find many variations of this dish, the jalapeño variety tends to be my preference. The jalapeño adds a nice pop of color to the golden, buttery bread.
To get a crispy crust on the bottom of the bread, I like to coat my pan in plenty of butter, heat it up, and literally “fry” the cornbread batter for a few minutes prior to baking it in the oven. I’m also a fan of adding whole corn kernels to the batter—I want my guests to know that they are getting the real thing! To create a nice presentation, I thinly slice some fresh jalapeño pepper, and arrange the slices over the top. The slices will just give into the bread, browning slightly while creating a rustic look that is a real crowd-pleaser when entertaining. Be sure to save any of those leftovers for my foolproof hangover cure: cornbread soaked in milk and topped with a drizzle of honey.
–Matt Moore, A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen
- 1½ cups stone-ground white or yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Stir together buttermilk, eggs, and corn kernels in a separate bowl. Whisk buttermilk mixture and ½ cup melted butter into dry ingredients just until combined, being careful not to overwork batter.
- Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until hot. Add 2 Tbsp. butter, and cook 1 minute or until melted. Pour batter into hot skillet, spreading to distribute evenly, and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice jalapeño peppers, and arrange desired number of slices over batter.
- Transfer skillet to oven, and bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until edges turn brown and cornbread pulls away from sides of skillet. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.
Remember, you’re in complete control over how much “heat” you want to add—just be sure not to add any of the seeds or ribs from the jalapeño peppers, or it will definitely be too spicy! For a more indulgent cornbread, mix 1 cup of sharp Cheddar cheese into the batter prior to pouring it into the skillet.