You probably are familiar by now with my very southern obsession with corn bread. I’ve admitted, once and for all, that I do put sugar in there. The secret is out. Hopefully the Texas Rangers won’t throw me out of the state. The next big secret in cornbread of course is to cook it in a cast iron skillet. The crust that forms from that hot skillet and fat is probably the next best thing to Prozac.
My brand new cornbread trick though involves a very simple addition. I put up about 8 quarts of roasted hatch green chiles this year. I buy the peppers in bulk, blister them over a flame, steam them in a paper sack, then peel off the blackened skins, and remove most of the seeds. That all gets stuck in ziplock bags and frozen to use over the coming year. You can have the roasting done for you in most top end groceries around the Southwest.
1½ cup yellow corn meal
½ cup unbleached flour
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup hot hatch green chilès, diced
1 egg, whipped
1½ cup buttermilk
2 tbs vegetable oil, melted butter, or bacon fat
2 tbs additional fat for the skillet
Set a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet on high heat while you prepare the batter. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir, just to incorporate. Turn the heat off under the skillet, and drop in the 2 tbs of extra oil. Swirl to coat. While the pan is still extremely hot, pour in the batter and spread it around to fill the pan. immediately place the skillet into a 425° oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle of the cornbread comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then invert over a plate.
I serve cornbread upside down. If you flip the cornbread over so that it is served right side up, the crispy crust will steam itself soft. Serving it just as it flips out of the pan, with the dark brown fried edge up, will keep the crust perfect while you eat.
This was fire engine hot cornbread. If you prefer, use mild hatch chilès. You could also use any green pepper that has been fire roasted. Hatch are hard to come by in many locations.