Growing up in Texas, cornbread was something we ate almost weekly.
Mom would almost always make her cornbread in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. That skillet gave the the cornbread a lovely crust on the bottom and I would always pick off the crusty bottom before eating the tender center. We never got fancy with the cornbread. We usually had regular cornbread, but on occasion we would have sweet.
Now that I am making the meals I still bake my cornbread in a cast iron skillet, but I like to tinker with my cornbread recipe. The recipe that follows was perhaps the most popular I have ever made with the men in my life. It has bacon, jalapenos, and sharp cheddar cheese, all of which add a lot of flavor. The cheese, in particular, makes the already fluffy cornbread crumb almost creamy while still very light. Serve up wedges of this cornbread with a hearty chili, some fried chicken, or all on its own. It doesn’t even need butter!
Jalapeno, Bacon and Cheddar Cornbread Serves 8
3 ounces all-purpose flour
3ounces yellow cornmeal
1 ounce sugar
1/3 ounce baking powder
1/2 ounce non-fat dry milk
5 1/2 ounces buttermilk
1/4 ounce honey
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 strips crisp cooked bacon, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon bacon fat
Heat the oven to 350 F and place a 10 1/2-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to heat.
In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and non-fat dry milk until well combined.
In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, honey, and melted butter.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then add the bacon, jalapeno, and shredded cheese, and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix.
Pull the hot skillet out of the oven and brush with the bacon fat, then pour the cornbread mixture in the pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cornbread springs back in the center when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan for ten minutes before slicing and serving.