Nothing says summer to me like cornbread. It is the quintessential bbq and summer grilling side - it is part sweet, part savory, and fully delicious.
And also makes a perfect late-night, wine drinking snack due to it's unapologetic butter content.
Not that I know from experience or anything.
Anyways, back to the cornbread.
People have very heated opinions about how to make proper cornbread: skillet or no skillet, sugar or no sugar, whole kernels or no kernels. Nearly everyone I know talks about how their grandmother makes the best cornbread - and how that cornbread is the model for how all cornbread should be. It is also one of those nostalgic foods that prompts memories of playing in the lingering summer daylight before gathering around a table with family and friends for a simple meal.
My heated opinion - well before today, I don't think I had one. If you asked me what kind of cornbread I liked before today I would have said: Cornbread? Me? I like cornbread with sugar, without sugar, with kernels, with no kernels, and even in a pan instead of a skillet. I'm not really picky.
I grew up in Arizona where the summers are too hot for anything other than swimming and consuming raspados (Mexican snow cones) and root beer floats. Cornbread was there, but it wasn't a hallmark of culinary prowess like it is in the south. Instead our prowess was judged on salsa recipe - a category in which my family's recipe reigns supreme. But that's another story entirely.
After today, I may be a bit more particular about my cornbread and may say that I make damn fine cornbread that would make my southern family proud (hi all my Georgia and Mississippi fam!).
This cornbread is adapted from the Pioneer Woman's skillet cornbread recipe - I figure if anyone knows cornbread, it's a do-it all woman who lives on a cattle ranch. I made this on a whim for a little dinner get together with my future sister-in-law, her boyfriend, and my roommate. I'm so glad I did. It's incredibly moist with a wonderful crumb, it's buttery, a bit spicy, and the edges are nice and crispy.
What I'm not glad about? That there are only two small slices left. It's probably better that way otherwise, well, I may just live off of this all summer long.
Gluten-Free Skillet Cornbread
adapted from: Pioneer Woman
Yields: one skillet full of deliciousness
130 grams gluten-free yellow or white cornmeal (not all is gfree due to manufacturing processes)
50 grams brown rice flour (make sure it is finely ground)
20 grams potato starch (or cornstarch)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 Tbsp. of vinegar to regular or non-dairy milk - I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup butter + 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax seed meal + 2-3 Tbsp warm water) * you can probably sub a real egg here, I was out of eggs!
1 cup roasted corn (I use Trader Joe's frozen variety - feel free to use regular fresh or frozen corn)
1 jalapeno, very finely diced - optional but highly recommended.
salt + pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Combine all dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, starch, baking powder and soda, salt + pepper) in a large bowl and stir to combine.
3. Prep your flax egg and your buttermilk, if making yourself.
4. Add in milk, buttermilk, and flax egg to flour mixture. Stir to combine.
5. Melt 1/4 cup of butter and add to mixture. Now is also a good time to heat up your cast iron skillet over medium high heat. You want that thing hot.
6. Add your whole corn and jalapeno, if using, to your cornbread mix. Adjust salt + pepper to taste.
7. Add 2 Tbsp of butter to your very hot skillet. Stay close. The key to this cornbread is getting the butter browned but not burnt. It won't take long - you want the butter to be amber colored and smell slightly sweet.
8. Once your butter has browned, quickly pour in your cornbread mixture and cook over the heat of a 1-2 minutes until the sides begin to pull away from the skillet.
9. Slide into the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool before cutting, if you can help it.
*If you don't have a cast iron skillet - you should definitely get one. But until then, you can make this in a small square pan. Just brown your 2 Tbsp of butter, pour into pan, add your cornbread mix, and bake. It may need a few additional minutes.