Monday, November 22, 2010

Jalapeno Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

It's the end of November already??? Blame it on the warmer than normal fall temps for this year's eleventh month rapidly about to become a memory.

It's Thanksgiving already??? I almost forgot about that...

Thanksgiving. What does that mean to you? Time with family? Time with friends the night before (biggest bar night of the year, dude!! ha ha)? Time to make that annual pumpkin flan or green bean casserole dish with the French Fried onions on top? Time to hear that not-so-appetizing sound of the cranberry as it shakes and quivers its way out of the can? Complete with ring impressions from the can interior!! That's about as real a shape as this impostor. Which dish do you look forward to the most each year? The big guy? The mashed? Stuffing? You put some marshmallow on sweet potatoes or some other weird shit? My favorite part is the leftovers, you may call them leftovers, but that's a misnomer of sorts. Cold turkey sammiches with a heaping of mayonnaise and black pepper, that gets me feeling like a kid on Christmas. Damn! It's almost Christmas???

For the foodie, what else could you ask for? It's an American Holiday that revolves around eating. Throw in some football and a few thoughts of what to be thankful for, and you've got a pretty sweet deal going. Maybe one year you should serve deer and ducks, to stay true to the original feast? Alternatively, you could do this.

In anticipation of the snow and winter that isn't here yet- time to make some chili. You know your freezer is more efficient when it's full of frozen stuff, right? Might as well pack it full of tasty stuff. The perfect accompaniment to chili? That would be some cornbread.

Don't be scared of the jalapeno, there isn't a large amount used and thus will not set your buds on fire. If I had a can of creamed corn, I woulda tossed that in the batter too. Don't have a cast iron skillet? You should get one, these are easy to find, cheap, and they do work on tasty things like bacon, pork chops, fried chicken, and can sear the balls off a bear if necessary.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbead with Chili-Lime Butter
6 servings

Chili-Lime Butter-
3 TB unsalted butter
2 ts fresh lime juice
pinch black pepper
1/2 ts medium chili powder
sea salt
See below for compound butter method.

Jalapeno Cheddar Skillet Cornbread-
1 C AP flour
1 C yellow corn meal
3 TB white sugar
1 ts baking soda
1 ts kosher
1/3 ts black pepper
1.5 C low fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
1.5 C sharp cheddar, freshly grated
1 TB diced jalapeno, about 1/2 a large jala
2 TB butter

Fire up the heater to 425F, place the rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat a large cast iron skillet in the oven, about a 9" pan or so. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, baking soda, and pepper. Whisk to combine and then make a well in the center. Add the eggs and the milk, whisking just enough to break up the eggs. Stir in the jala and cheese.

With your ove glove, remove the hot skillet from the heatbox and throw 2 TB of butter in. Once all the butter has melted, turn to coat and pour in the batter evenly. Bake for about 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes until cutting into. It will still be warm and you should serve immediately, passing the butter.

Here's an easy way to make a compound butter- throw a few TB's in a heat proof bowl and set on the working stovetop. Add in your flavorings, whisk a bit once warmed up to combine, then remove from heat and let harden. Yummy.

As with most Thanksgivings, it's a great time to be thankful for all the food that we are fortunate enough to have. Not just good food either, I'm not going to list foie gras or truffles or pork belly or anything like that, just food. Any food, all food. We're pretty damn lucky to have access to so much food and so many choices in this country, where we spend trillions of dollars a year to offset overeating. So thank a farmer, thank your butcher, say thanks to your fishmonger, thank the dude who bakes your bread. And then enjoy the feast! Need help with a wine pairing?

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