Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

It’s football season. Chili time! When Jim makes chili, I make cornbread. I can’t remember what recipe I used last season, guess it wasn’t memorable, so I hunted for a new one. This irresistible recipe from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network) adds jalapenos and cheddar cheese to the bread. Ina’s recipes are always delicious, but this one called for two sticks of butter, that’s a bit excessive. The alterations began. How about half butter, half canola oil? That’s still plenty fatty but works for me. I may even use less butter next time.

Ina’s recipe called for only one cup of cornmeal and three cups of all-purpose flour. I wanted more corn flavor so I doubled the cornmeal. I also substituted whole-wheat flour for half the remaining all-purpose flour. Next time, I may skip the all-purpose flour altogether and increase the cornmeal and whole-wheat flour. I also increased the sugar just a bit. I like cornbread to have a noticeable hint of sweetness.

I increased the jalapenos, using canned pickled jalapenos instead of fresh since we always have those in the fridge – one of Jim’s favorite snacks.

The bread is really flavorful and not at all dry – a common cornbread syndrome. I like the heat from the additional jalapenos and for the right crowd, I might add even more. And it’s good for breakfast too!

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/3 cup minced pickled jalapeno peppers
  • Cooking spray
  • Optional – extra cheese and scallions for the top of bread

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil and butter. Stir wet ingredients into dry until most of the lumps dissolve. Mix in cheese, scallions and jalapenos. Allow mixture to sit at room temp for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9” x 13” baking pan.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Optional – sprinkle with extra cheese and scallions. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Mine took a bit longer than 35 minutes but I haven’t checked my oven temperature recently so it might be off. Cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from recipe by Food Network, Barefoot Contessa.

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