Jalapeño-Bacon Skillet CornbreadSunday, January 06, 2013
Happy New Year! I would like to start off by saying that I have six half-finished recipe posts. Six. I'm quite sure that's a sign of some sort of attention-deficit disorder or commitment phobia. Whatever the case may be, I've been on a serious cooking spree in the last week or so, but I get so excited about the next dish that I haven't stopped to blog the ones I've finished! I'm writing this post shortly after midnight after spending most of Saturday evening prepping for tomorrow's dinner - yes, I realize I am young and should be out having fun, but when I get that fire lit under me there's nothing stopping it. There are two things that inspired me to make cornbread, along with many other dishes recently, so this recipe is a great segue into a slew of upcoming related posts. Bacon and cast-iron skillets have damn near changed my life in a matter of a few weeks. First, about this skillet I received for Christmas from my sister, who has incredible gift-giving skills. LeCreuset Enameled Cast-Iron Skillet. You need this in your life. I rarely do product placements here, but when I say this will change the way you cook, I'm serious. I was lucky enough to receive another cast-iron skillet as a gift from my mom (Emeril's cookware), and will write about that one when I try it out! But for now, let's talk about the amazing things LeCreuset has done for my cooking.
I didn't grow up with anybody who cooked on a cast-iron skillet in our house, and we ate well-prepared food, so it just never occurred to me that they were that serious. Wrong. I don't know if it's the placebo effect or what, but there is definitely some magic going on here and it's really inspiring me to step up my cooking game. From perfectly seared fish, to crispy bacon, to quick apple crisps and tender cornbread...we're talking expertly prepared foods at home, done so much more easily than I could in the
On to the second part of my inspiration tonight: bacon. It's actually quite amazing that I stayed away from pork for so long, considering how ridiculously amazing I will now concede that bacon is. I have been chalking it up to a cheap culinary trick at best, a gateway food to clogged arteries at worst...but I stand today, corrected. I started dabbling in pork prior to the holidays - nothing major, a few pork chops here, some Linguica there. But right before Thanksgiving, when my super health-conscious uncle pulled out a tub of bacon grease from his fridge (his choice of fat for the Paleo diet), I knew I had to reconsider my stance. Let's be real, shall we? I don't need to be a board certified doctor to posture that eating half a pound of bacon every day is likely terrible for your health. That said, a serving or two over the course of a week as part of a balanced diet isn't going to kill you, and some would debate that it's actually a better fat and protein than a lot of others out there. But we're not here to get into the science behind that, not at this hour anyway. Just like with desserts, I would rather have the "real thing" in moderation than pretend to enjoy a watered down version. So don't suggest that I try turkey bacon, or give me a lecture about becoming what you eat. I've been cooking with delicious, crispy bacon, and loving every greasy minute of it. So in preparation for a killer Sunday Dinner (more on that tomorrow), we're about to get into this Jalapeño-Bacon cornbread recipe and enjoy a small slice...or two.
2 cloves garlic, minced
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Equipment Needed: Heavy oven-safe 10" skillet, preferably cast-iron. Note: To do this recipe without a skillet, simply transfer batter to a greased cake pan and bake accordingly.
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. I used part cake flour here to impart a lighter texture. I'm sure using a full cup of all-purpose flour would work fine - please let me know if you try it that way.
Dice up the bacon into 1/2" pieces and place in a cold skillet. Yes, cold. You want the bacon to slowly crisp up as the skillet heats, and adding it to a hot skillet will only increase the chances of it burning first. Set your stove top to medium and cook the bacon, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When bacon has browned and edges are crisp, remove from skillet and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet.
Add the diced onions and jalapeños to the skillet and saute for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, and cook a minute or so longer. Remove the sauteed veggies from the skillet and set aside. I used a mix of green jalapeños and a red chili, which had a little more heat. If you really want to maximize the heat from your peppers, don't cook them. Instead, add the raw diced peppers to your batter later on.
Add the beaten eggs, cream, melted butter, honey and sauteed veggies to your bowl, mixing just until the batter forms and dry ingredients are incorporated. Just like with pancakes, you don't want to overwork the batter.
At this point you still want the skillet to be hot. If you don't have enough fat left to sufficiently grease the bottom and sides of the skillet, add a pat or two of butter. Swirl it around the pan to coat it well. Carefully pour the cornbread batter into the skillet.
Now sprinkle that crumbled bacon all over the cornbread batter. I also added some thinly sliced jalapeños and chili peppers for garnish, and it's a good way to let your dinner guests know what they're about to taste.
Transfer the skillet to the middle rack of your oven and bake approximately 30 minutes, or until the top of the cornbread is a deep golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. If desired, melt a little butter over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
By the way, if you serve food out of your good skillets, be sure to use plastic or wooden utensils so as not to scratch the bottom of the skillet. Technically I was cooking this the night before dinner, but I just couldn't wait to try a piece of this. Moist, sweet cornbread with spicy jalapeños and smoky crisp bacon. Delicious, fast and easy to make, and it's going to go great with the ribs and greens I'm cooking up for Sunday Dinner!