Layer the flavor, as with this Skillet Cornbread With Scallions & Cotija Cheese from Good Eggs. Here’s the recipe (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco).
Cornbread is a staple in the Southern U.S., and found not-often-enough in other regions. It can be plain or accented with popular mix-ins like corn kernels and minced jalapeños.
It can be baked in a cake pan or a skillet. And it can be much more:
Instead of simple, overly sweetened cornbread, we turn cornmeal into cornbread recipes layered with flavor: those corn kernels and jalapeños plus bacon, diced ham, fresh sage, scallions (green onions), shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese, sundried tomatoes and more.
Today’s tip is to serve cornbread with the salad course: We have a fun and flavorful recipe below for Buffalo Chicken Cornbread. But first, some…
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CORNBREAD
As corn spread from Mexico northward, it was cultivated by Native Americans across the southern region of what is now the U.S.
When European settlers arrived, they learned to cultivate and cook corn from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek. They adapted cornmeal to European recipes: bread loaves and muffins, corncakes, corn pone (fried simply), fritters, hoecakes and pancakes, liquor, porridge and so on. Cornbread became popular as the main ingredient for a dressing or stuffing with fowl (the difference: stuffing is cooked inside the bird; dressing is cooked in a separate pan).
Cornmeal is produced by grinding dried raw corn grains. The finest grind is used for baking, a medium grind for porridge and polenta, and a coarse grind for grits.
Raw corn kernels spoked in hot water and an alkaline mineral like calcium hydroxide is called hominy (pozole in Spanish) and ground and mixed into masa harina, the dough used to make tamales and tortillas.
Cornbread can be baked or fried, even steamed. Steamed cornbread is more like cornmeal pudding or mush, moist and chewier than a traditional bread.
Here’s more on the evolution of cornbread plus early cornbread recipes. One thing to note:
Originally cornbread did not contain sugar. As disposable income increased, this expensive ingredient was added as a variation, to make cornbread more like a cake. Unfortunately, more and more sugar was added until cornbread became an overly-sweet, simple bread.
That’s fine if you want cake; you can serve sweet cornbread with berries and whipped cream.
But if it’s bread you want, lose the sugar. We prefer to add whole corn kernels for sweetness, or enjoy cornbread as a savory bread.
Finally: Is it cornbread or cornbread? Either spelling is fine. Many words evolve into compound nouns over time (bed room > bedroom, blue bird > bluebird, motor cycle > motorcycle, red head > redhead, under ground > underground and so forth.
CORN VS. MAIZE: THE DIFFERENCE
Maize is another word for corn. The only difference is in the word origin:
Maize is the Spanish spelling of mahiz, a word from the Arawakan language of the Taíno people who voyaged from what is now Venezuela to the Caribbean. There, they first encountered Spanish explorers and conquistadors. By the time Europeans migrated to the New World in the late 15th century, the Taíno were the principal inhabitants of most of what comprises modern Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the island that comprises the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and Puerto Rico.
The Taíno also gave us the words which we now spell as barbecue, canoe, hammock, hurricane and tobacco.
Corn is a general world for grain, originating from the Proto-Germanic kurnam, small seed, to the German korn, to the Old English corn, which initially referred to barleycorn, a grain of barley. When New World corn came to Britain, it was called Indian corn.
Now, for that delicious recipe we promised earlier:
RECIPE: BUFFALO CHICKEN CORNBREAD WITH BLUE CHEESE SALAD
As an alternative salad course, top a “loaded” slice of cornbread with the salad.
If you like blue cheese, this imaginative variation of cornbread was submitted by Sonya Goergen to the recipe section of the Lodge Manufacturing website. She uses a Lodge skillet, of course!
You can serve cornbread and salad at brunch, as a soup-and-salad lunch, or as a salad course at dinner.
Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.
Ingredients For 8 Servings
For The Cornbread
Nonstick cooking spray
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package yellow cornbread mix* (6.5 ounces)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 cups fully cooked frozen boneless Buffalo-style hot wings, thawed and diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 small head of lettuce, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2/3 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Garnish: chopped cilantro
For The Salad
*Sonya used Martha White Yellow Cornbread Mix (not the “sweet cornbread” mix, which is much sweeter). You can use another brand.
Top: Buffalo Cornbread With Salad (photo courtesy Sonya Goergen | Lodge Manufacturing). Center: Flat-leaf parsley. Bottom: Curly parsley (photos courtesy Good Eggs). See the difference between curly and flat leaf varieties below.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Spray a 10-1/4” cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
2. COMBINE the egg, milk and oil in a medium bowl. Add the cornbread mix, Cheddar cheese, blue cheese, diced hot wings, red pepper flakes and cilantro. Stir until well blended and pour into the skillet, spreading evenly.
3. COOK for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
4. Combine the lettuce, celery, red onion and crumbled blue cheese in a medium bowl. Toss with the blue cheese dressing. Cut the cornbread into 8 wedges and divide the salad atop the portion. Garnish with diced tomatoes and cilantro and serve.
FLAT LEAF VS CURLY LEAF PARSLEY
There are numerous varieties of parsley, but flat leaf and curly are the varieties most often found at the store, and can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Flat-leaf or Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum) is more flavorful than the curly variety. It also lies better on a plate, if you’re using it as a garnish.
Curly parsley (Petroselinum crispum) has traditionally been used as a plate garnish—and over time, it became a boring one to us. To adapt a phrase from Groucho Marx, we bought back our introduction to it.
Don’t toss the stems: Stronger in flavor than the leaves, they can be used in a bouquet garni, stock, and minced to flavor dishes from beans and eggs to pesto and salads. You can freeze the stems until you need them.
The plant, native to the Mediterranean, is a member of the Apiaceae family, commonly known as the carrot, celery or parsley family. It is a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems.
Family members include angelica, anise, arracacha, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, chervil, cicely, coriander (cilantro), culantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage, and parsnip, among others.