When I think of cornbread, I can vividly see the image of worn hands draped in cornmeal dust, kissed by sticky bits of egg and butter. I smell the thickness of buttermilk’s tang waft beneath my nostrils. There’s natural sunlight piercing through the grease stained windows where laundry drapes from the twine in the distance. There was a little shed out back that was attached to a chicken coop where my sister and I once collected eggs from the rustic piles of hay, leaves and cotton, that were sewn into works of art where the eggs lay.
It almost seems like a lost cause to bake something attached to so many warm thoughts. My grandmother never made jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It’s a treat that I’ve developed a fondness for over time. The hint of spicy warmth on that sweet corn backdrop and the kiss of that nutty cheese to bring it all together is something enchanting if you let it be. When I reminisce with friends about simple southern staples like cornbread as pertaining to my childhood. It entails that of a Lodge cast-iron skillet, a chipped coffee mug, hot cornbread, buttermilk and a spoon. You talk about heaven’s dessert. I’m not sure if it was dessert? Or maybe it was breakfast, or a snack? Either way, it seduced the soul and calmed the spirit far more than any prescription drug nowadays. You should give it a try.
This recipe is simple in nature and lends itself to interpretation depending upon how creative you want to be. No mind what the ‘traditional southern purists’ may say.
I’m contemplating adding pimento cheese to appease the masses, because who doesn’t love pimento cheese?
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
½ pound room temperature(2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (leave some to grease pan)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (2 to 3 peppers)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter, set aside.
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl(dry ingredients always want to runaway). In a separate bowl mix the minced jalapeno, eggs, milk and butter. add your dry mixture by the cupful one at a time into the wet mixture and combine using a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over mix and its ok if little specks of butter are still present. Then, fold in the grated cheese using a rubber spatula until fully combined.
3. Pour batter into your greased cast-iron skillet and bake for 25-35 minutes depending upon your oven. I recommend allowing it to cool for a few moments but not all the way, its best when warm.