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Cornbread

Split this warm spicy and cheesy yogurt cornbread horizontally and spread with really good butter.

GREG PATENT, for Lee Montana Newspapers

Years ago, when I was the National Spokesperson for Cuisinarts Inc., I developed a recipe, “yogurt and jalapeño cornbread,” for the food processor. I demonstrated it all over the country, and people raved about it.

As the years passed, I lost track of the recipe. Then, a few nights ago, I made a beef and bean chili. My wife said, “Why don’t you make that yogurt cornbread to go with it?” That’s all I needed. I had all the ingredients, and off to the kitchen I went.

In the original recipe I used the food processor to shred the cheese, chop the chile and onion (I now use shallot), cut the butter into the dry ingredients, and mix in the yogurt and eggs with a few quick pulses. If you have a food processor, you’re most welcome to make the recipe that way.

Lacking a food processor, just follow the directions in the recipe here. This cornbread is moist, has a slight tang from the yogurt, and is great with chili or any time you’re serving something saucy. You can use any cornmeal you like, yellow or white, stone ground or not.

After playing around with the recipe some more, it told me to up the spice kick a bit. Recipes do have a mind of their own, you know. This cornbread loves butter, and it also loves to sop up sauces.

Spicy and cheesy yogurt cornbread

Makes 8 or 9 portions

Ingredients:

1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry measure, fill to overflowing, and sweep off excess with a straight edge)

2/3 cup (4 ounces) yellow or white cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (see note)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces

2 jalapeño or serrano pepper, halved, seeded, and finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced shallot

4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 cup plain unflavored Greek yogurt, any fat content

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco), or to taste

Directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a nine-inch-by-nine-inch-by-two-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together thoroughly the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Add the cold butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives until particles are in tiny pieces. If you prefer, just reach into the bowl with your hands like I do and pinch the butter and flour together rapidly to make fine particles. Stir in the peppers, shallot, and half the shredded cheese; reserve remaining cheese to sprinkle on top of batter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs and hot pepper sauce to combine well. Add to the dry ingredients and stir together with a flexible spatula to make a thick batter. Spread level in the prepared pan and scatter the reserved cheese over the top.

Bake about 30 minutes, until the top is slightly domed, flecked with golden brown cheese, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool a few minutes before cutting and serving. Cut the cornbread into squares, split them horizontally, and spread with plenty of butter.

Note: Increase baking soda to 1 teaspoon at sea level.

Greg Patent is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, food journalist, and co-host of Montana Public Radio’s “The Food Guys,” broadcast Sunday mornings.

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