I am a ginormous cornbread lover. I love it super sweet slathered with lots of butter and I love it savory slathered with lots of butter. I love it accompanied with soup and I love it by its lonesome. I love it morphed into cheesy casseroles and I love morphed into elegant cakes. I love it as a snack, I love it as a side, and I love it for dessert.
Really, I just love cornbread any which way I can get my hands on it – which I’m pretty sure is obvious by the repetitive use of the word love in the previous paragraph. The fact that it takes mere minutes to whip up (pre-bake, of course), and uses ingredients most of us already have in our pantry make the end results taste a thousand times better.
In this particular recipe I did a little hybrid between a sweet and savory variation. Sweet from a little bit of sugar and savory from the addition of browned butter, onions, lots of sharp gruyere cheese and spicy poblano peppers.
There’s flour and cornmeal, as usual, but I tend to like the cornmeal to flour ratio more cornmeal than flour – whereas most recipes call for the opposite – it’s a texture thing. The more texture, the better.
The wee little thing that makes this cornbread extra extra special is the crisp exterior it gets from baking in a screaming hot cast iron skillet covered in browned butter.
If you don’t already own a cast iron skillet, I suggest you go out and get yourself one. It is seriously one of my favorite vessels to cook with (almost as much as my new All Clad pans), and the only reason I don’t use it more often is because it’s just so darn heavy. I’m embarrassingly lazy, and half the time I can’t manage to pull all the pots and pans out from the shelf to get to the heaviest pan on the bottom – but when I do, wonderful things happen.
A perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet gives steaks a perfectly golden brown crust, doesn’t stick to fish, cooks bacon that’s insanely crisp, and if you can believe it, makes an incredible pizza crust. And of course, the whole reason for this post, aids in cooking the most amazing crunchy-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside- cornbread.
This is best served straight out of the oven, but you can absolutely make it ahead of time and it will still be delicious – it just won’t be quite as crisp as it once was. And warning, this makes A LOT of cornbread, so unless you have an army of children or hungry friends around, you will have leftovers.
Just an FYI: Cornbread croutons are addictive… More to come on that later…
- 1 ¼ cups cornmeal
- ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ¼ cup oil
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- ½ small onion, chopped
- 1 poblano chili
- 1 cup sharp gruyere cheese, plus extra fro serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Roast poblano pepper over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened all over. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let set for five to ten minutes. Peel and seed pepper; chop.
- In a cast-iron skillet, melt two tablespoons butter over a medium high heat. When butter begins to brown, swirl pan until the butter is a deep golden brown. Reduce heat to medium, and add onions. Cook until softened, about two minutes. Season with a little bit of salt. Cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a liquid measure cup, whisk milk, eggs, oil, cooled brown butter and onions, chopped poblano and gruyere cheese.
- In the same cast-iron skillet, melt remaining butter over a medium-high heat, when butter begins to brown, swirl pan. When butter turns a deep brown, pour batter in.
- Place skillet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until brown and cooked through.