I hate to be immodest, but I make THE BEST cornbread. Actually, I don’t give a crap about modesty. I’m just a couple steps above Kanye on the humble-chart.
I always thought I hated cornbread. I was under the assumption that it had to be dry and crumby and bland. I’m here to tell you all today that these assumptions are wrong. It can be moist, sweet, spicy and delicious. And even though it looks difficult to make something this beautiful, it’s actually pretty damn easy. Here’s how…
- 3 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup cream-style corn
- 6 tablespoons of salted butter
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 8 oz. cheese (I used white sharp cheddar)
- 1 large vidalia onion
- Hot sauce
- Crushed red pepper flakes
I included my cast iron skillet in the picture because it is a big part of this recipe. The heavy bottomed skillet will allow you to perfectly caramelize your onions then transfer your cornbread to the oven to bake. So, yes, for this particular recipe, the cast iron skillet is essential. Mine is 12 inches.
That being said, you can leave out the “WOW” factor of the upside-down onion cornbread and simply create the cornbread mix and bake it in a baking dish of your choice and everyone will still think you’re amazing because you’ve just blown their minds with the best cornbread they’ve ever eaten. Just hope I don’t bring this upside-down number to dinner on the same night. Because this one’s SO much better. The sweet, buttery onions really make a difference.
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Get yourself a big mixing bowl and dump out all three boxes of Jiffy mix. Some of you might think using Jiffy mix is cheating, and maybe it is. I know there’s great stone-ground cornmeals out there. Why, just right here in Pensacola, FL we have C&D Mill where CW and Dorothy Bruton, two of the coolest corn grinders you’ll ever meet, turn out every ground corn product you could imagine. And when it comes to grits, they’re the only choice for me. In this recipe, however, I just like the sweet flavor of Jiffy and the fact that it costs around 50 cents a box. So call it what you will.
Next, crack three eggs and add them in. Add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. I’m partial to Crystal.
Next, measure out a cup of creamed corn and add that to the party. Then you’ll need a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and about the same amount of red pepper flakes. I really think the pepper is important. It doesn’t make the bread too spicy for anyone to eat, but it does add a little, tiny kick at the end. So you get the sweet, the savory, and the spicy.
Now I add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream. It helps to keep it super moist along with all that creamy corn.
Now I grate up an entire 8 oz. block of sharp white cheddar. I said it’s delicious cornbread, I never mentioned healthy cornbread. Add that cheesy goodness to the mix.
**NOTE** I do make a “Mexican” version of this cornbread which is essentially the same. I simply substitute pepperjack cheese and add a small can of green chilis.
The final ingredient is milk. I used about 2/3 cup. Now get to stirring. Stir just until incorporated and be sure to not leave any clumps of cornmeal mix. That would be bad. Set aside.
Now for that onion. Vidalia onions are almost disk-shaped and have a tendency to be much sweeter. They’re grown in Vidalia, Georgia and are the state’s official vegetable. Who the hell cares, Keelea. You need one big one. Cut off both ends and take the skin off. Next, slice that onion into round disks about 1/4 inch thick, like so:
Over medium low heat, begin heating your cast iron skillet on the stove. Add to the warm skillet 6 tablespoons of salted butter. Once again…delicious cornbread, not healthy cornbread. Once your butter is melted and begins to get foamy, begin adding your onion disks. Your skillet should still not be too hot. You want these to caramelize slowly.
Arrange them as neatly as you possibly can. Think of this as a pineapple upside down cake. How you arrange these onions on the bottom will effect how your finished product looks. Mine never comes out perfectly, but with a little patience, it’s still a show stopper. You’ll have to quarter some of the disks to fill in gaps. Try to cover the entire bottom of your skillet in onion. That’s your goal. Here’s how mine looked:
Let those onions sizzle a bit over medium low heat–WITHOUT STIRRING OR MOVING THEM–until you see a bit of caramelization (see the photo on the top right). They don’t need to be cooked all the way through…the oven will handle that. Give your cornbread mix a fresh stir and slowly begin spooning it over the onions as they cook, taking great care not to disturb their pattern. Once you get it all in, you’ll notice the butter has risen up along the sides of the pan. This is good. It will keep the bread from sticking and help it to form a crackly crust along the rim. Yummmmm…
Now transfer the whole (super heavy) skillet to the oven…I recommend using two hands…and let it bake for about 35 minutes at 400 degrees. Your finished cornbread should be golden on top, crusty around the edges, and have no jiggle in the center. Basically, it will look just like this:
You’ve got to admit, that’s a thing of beauty. Perfection, really.
Now, just to be sure, take a knife and work it gently around the edge of the pan, making sure you don’t have any sticking there. The butter generally makes sure of that, but sometimes a little oozy pocket of cheese will cause a problem for you. The knife will ensure you don’t have that issue.
Now for the scary part. I do this alone all the time, but I’m a cornbread flipping professional. At this point, you may want to call in some reinforcements. I’d hate for you to drop this cornbread and have to eat it off the kitchen floor like some kind of savage.
Find yourself a large, round platter. I happen to have a plate I use specifically for this recipe. My Cornbread Plate. It’s a thing. Yours should be flat and larger than the rim of the pan. Those are really the only two requirements. Now get yourself siked up. You can do this.
Lay the plate upside down on top of the pan.
Deep breath in. Pep talk. Deep breath out.
Keeping the plate firmly pressed to the rim of the pan, flip that sucker.
Now, slowly lift your pan off the top. What reveals itself is your masterpiece. Congratulations to you. You are a success in life.
I have never once been able to let this cornbread cool down before cutting myself a slice, and topping that steaming goodness with a pat of butter and drizzle of honey. It’s a meal in itself. Enjoy it in good health!
Breakfast of champions:
Everyone will agree.