Some like their sweet, others unsweetened. Some prefer it cakey, others dense. This version is unsweetened and, unlike many cornbread recipes, does not include flour, which results in a grainy texture with deep corn flavor. Or feel free to use your favorite cornbread recipe.
The key here is cooking it on the grill in a cast-iron skillet, which lends the cornbread a lovely fire-roasted flavor.
You'll need a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; if you have a 10-inch skillet, see the NOTE below. The cornbread should release easily. If you want grill marks on it, you can remove the cornbread with a spatula, turn it upside down on the grates for about a minute, just long enough for some light marking, then use the spatula to ease it back into the skillet for presentation.
Serve with honey or butter.
- 1 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
- 1 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 4 ounces canned peeled green hatch chilies (mild or hot)
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or vegetable oil
Prepare the grill for direct heat; a medium-hot fire. If using charcoal, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the grate for 4 to 6 seconds. For a gas grill, preheat for 10 minutes to 450 degrees (medium-high).
Combine the cornmeal, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Combine the buttermilk, butter and eggs in a medium bowl. Stir into the cornmeal mixture, along with the chilies.
Use the bacon drippings or oil to grease the bottom of the cast-iron skillet. Place on the grill, uncovered, to heat up for 5 to 10 minutes; the fat may darken a bit at the edges of the pan, and that's okay.
Transfer the batter to the hot skillet, spreading it evenly. Cook uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, or until you see the edges of the cornbread start to form a crust. Close the lid, with the vents slightly open. Cook for 20 minutes or until the cornbread is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
(At this point, the cornbread can be eased out of the pan to create grill marks then put back in; see the headnote.)
Remove from the heat; rest the cornbread, in the skillet, for about 5 minutes to avoid crumbling. Bring the skillet to the table and cut into wedges. Serve warm.
NOTE: The cornbread will be thinner, and cook faster, in a 10-inch skillet. Reduce the grill heat to 350 degrees; cook for 20 minutes. Pulling it onto the grill for grill marks may be too tricky at this size.
From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
Tested by Jim Webster.
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