A simple Southern meal, says cookbook author Ellise Pierce, is black-eyed peas with ham — and cornbread. In Texas, we add jalapeños. It’s just the way we do things. This bread is crusty on the outside, tender inside, and you can add just as much — or little — chopped jalapeño as you like.
4 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned corn, drained
3-4 pickled jalapeños, chopped, or to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When it is hot put the bacon grease or butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and slide it into the oven. If you are using a baking dish, spread a tablespoonful of the butter or bacon grease around in the dish and set aside while you mix the batter.
Mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add milk and eggs and stir this all up. Fold in everything else — onion, garlic, corn, chopped jalapeños and grated cheese. If you’re using the skillet, pull it out of the oven, pour the grease or butter into the corn bread mixture and quickly mix it up. Then pour the mixture into the skillet. This is how you get that nice, crispy brown crust. Pop this back into the oven tor 40-45 minutes. It’s done when the cornbread is brown and top feels nice and firm.
If you are using a baking dish, melt the bacon grease or butter and put it in the cornbread mixture. Then, pour the batter into the baking dish and put in the oven, proceeding as above.When done and cooled for a few minutes, cut into wedges if you are using the skillet, or into squares if using a square baking pan.
Makes 1 (10-inch) skillet of cornbread.
Adapted from “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent” by Ellise Pierce