Sunday, July 10, 2016

So Corny: Cheddar and Pimiento Cornbread

I've never been particularly fond of corn in general, and don't eat it often, but every once in a while I have to make an exception. There's nothing better alongside your chili than a thick slab of cornbread, and nothing more pleasing than spooning your bolognese over rich, creamy polenta. And while you're at it, a little cheese and pimiento never hurt anything, either:

Cheddar and Pimiento Cornbread Slice

Cheddar and Pimiento Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grindings of black pepper
4 Tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. pimientos, drained (chop roughly if the pieces seem too big)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8x8-inch square (or similar capacity) pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground pepper until combined, making sure to break up any lumps. In a large bowl, cream together melted butter, brown sugar, eggs and sour cream until blended, then stir in about half of the flour mixture. Mix in the milk, then add the remaining flour mixture and stir until just combined and all the ingredients are moist. Gently fold in the cheese and pimientos, then scrape the mixture into your prepared pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until deeply golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes: I realized (after the pan was in the oven) that a few Tablespoons of chopped chives or parsley would have added excellent flavor and a pop of green —definitely try it when you make this! There is a lot of fat and moisture in this recipe, but it makes all the difference in creating the perfectly tender texture of the finished cornbread. Use the sharpest cheddar you can find, you want that cheesy flavor to sing! If you don't like pimientos, you can leave them out, or try chopped sun-dried tomatoes instead. For extra "pimiento cheese" flavor, substitute mayonnaise for the sour cream!


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