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How To Make The Ultimate Cornbread (Jalapeno, Bacon With Whipped Honey Butter)

Updated: Jan 10

Cornbread is a notoriously sad side dish. It's usually a dry boxed mix that turns out really disappointing. I wanted to fix that by making a flavorful and satisfying cornbread that steals the show. One day when I was testing, I ran out of cornmeal and just replaced it 1 to 1 with masa harina. I left the pan on the stove, and when my wife got home, she said this was easily the best version I’d ever made hands down. She couldn’t tell it wasn’t cornmeal at all, she just noted how moist and flavorful it was. If you want to keep it traditional, you could use light ground cornmeal, but for me, masa harina is just better. This is the recipe.



Cornbread

1 cup Masa Harina (or light grain cornmeal)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp bacon fat

3 slices of bacon

1 jalapeno

1 egg

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda


Whipped Honey Brown Butter

2 tbsp butter browned in pan

1 tbsp honey mixed in when cold

Pinch of salt


Set your oven to 500 and place your 5in cast iron in to get ripping hot. This makes enough for 3-4 servings. I need a little bacon fat for the batter and to grease the pan itself so we’ll fry up 3 slices of bacon until crispy and rendered. Save that fat (there should be around 3 tbsp or so) and then chop up those bacon pieces; those will get added to our dry mix.


To set our cornbread apart, we’ll make a whipped honey brown butter to spoon on when the bread is hot from the oven. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and brown them in a pan until the milk solids have turned nicely dark. These caramelize and turn nutty, which is absolutely we’re aiming for. Once browned pour into a bowl sitting in a larger bowl with ice water. Begin mixing this with a whisk so the butter will cool evenly. Mix in 1 tbsp of honey and a pinch of salt, this can sit, just waiting to be melted onto our crunchy cornbread.


We’ll start with a dry mix and then add our wet batter to it. This keeps a more tender structure to final product. In a bowl, add 1 cup of masa harina, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt. I’ll also add one chopped jalapeno with the seeds removed. Add in your chopped bacon from earlier and we can turn to the wet component.


In a measuring container, measure out 1/2 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Crack in one egg and beat it into the milk. Stir in 2 tbsp of reserved bacon fat and that’s our wet mix sorted.


Pour that into the dry and gently mix it until it’s just barely come together. The more we mix this, the denser and drier it will turn out. If your batter is too thick, which can happen with different brands of masa, add a little more whole milk. Grab your hot cast iron from the oven and grease it with the last tablespoon of reserved bacon fat. Pour in your batter and it should sizzle and screech pretty much immediately, this is the key to getting the deeply browned crust.


Turn the oven down to 450 and cook for 11 minutes. That should be the perfect time for the crust to set into a crunchy delicious edge, while the center stays moist and perfectly fluffy. At this point, I’ll slice some scallion for a nice oniony contrast on top. Take the cornbread out of the oven, and to confirm our crust is right, I like to flip this onto a plate, and then slide it back into the pan upside down. That lets the crust be shown off in all it’s dark brown glory. While the pan is still hot, I like to spoon on our sweet honey butter so it melts and sizzles down the sides. Sprinkle on some green onion and flaky salt and dig right in. Yeah you could cut this into nice little triangles, but I like to leave it in the pan and dig in with spoons. That’s not usually possible with the standard cornbread that tastes more like sand than bread. Now you've got a cornbread that is better than the main dish on the table.


Cheers!


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Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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