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 chiles (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.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.