Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

I admit cornbread and I have not gotten along in the past. Every new recipe I try always seemed to result in dry, flavorless, yellow bricks. So like an incompatible relationship, my determination for moist cornbread began to fizzle. At first our interactions involved steamy greetings in the night. To heated arguments about how a cornbread should act and taste. Finally, everything ended when I caught cornbread a little to close to the ribs in the dark corners of the refrigerator.

Recently, my spirits were lifted when I saw a Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread recipe featured on the Barefoot Contessa show. I was inspired by the balance of jalapeño with cheddar, the ratio of flour to cornmeal seemed balanced, and allowing the batter to rest might provide a moist texture. Since my track record for a stable cornbread relationship has not fared so well in the past, I decided to follow the recipe to a “T”.

True to Ina’s word, she did not disappoint. The exterior was a rich golden yellow with dots of green from the scallions. I decided to use sharp white cheddar, as recommended, and it provided a punch of sharpness that enhanced the light spice of the jalapeño. Don’t be scared by this recipe. If you make sure to remove the seeds and white veins from the jalapeño, this cornbread will not be spicy at all.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 oz Cheddar, shredded, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix!

Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining shredded Cheddar and extra chopped scallions.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Authors Note: The recipe calls for a 9 X 13 X 2-inch baking pan. The cornbread tends to rise pretty well. Make sure whatever type of pan you use has high sides.  Also, this works as a great side to my Smoked Kielbasa and White Bean Soup recipe.

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