Bacon Cheddar Cornbread

This cornbread would make a great accompaniment to a steaming pot of chili on a crisp autumn evening.  The trick to getting the cornbread perfectly crispy on the edges without burning is to cook it in a screaming hot cast iron pan.  Since I don’t have a shallow cast iron pan or skillet, I use my 6-quart pot and it works just as well.

Bacon Cheddar Cornbread
Yield:  8 servings
Time:  Active: 15 min;  Total: 40 min

1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup flour
1½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1¼ cups buttermilk, shaken
¼ cup skim milk
1 egg
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup butter
1 jalapeño, finely diced
¼ cup scallions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked to be crispy*, and diced into small pieces

1.  Rub 1 tbsp. of butter into a cast iron pan.  Place the pan in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.

2.  Place the jalapeño, garlic, shallot, and EVOO into a small sauté pan.  Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add scallions and ½ tsp. salt, cooking for another minute.  Set aside to allow to cool slightly.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1 tsp. of salt.

4.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, milk, and baking soda.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk to incorporate.

5.  Melt 6 tbsp. of butter and whisk into the batter.  Fold in the cheddar cheese, sautéed veggies, and crispy bacon.

6.  Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven.  Rub remaining 1 tbsp. of butter into the bottom of the pan to coat.  Pour batter into hot pan and spread to smooth out the top.  Bake at 450°F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and the edges are crispy.
* I find that the easiest way to cook the bacon is to microwave it.  Line a microwave-safe plate with paper towels, place the bacon in a single layer and cover with another paper towel.  Microwave for 5-7 minutes, until cooked to desired crispiness.

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Bacon Cheddar Cornbread