So, yes, cornbread with tasty things mixed into it… how novel, I know. This particular savory cornbread, however, is my version of a traditional, if somewhat bizarre, family recipe. The original was a treat courtesy of the French-Canadian couple who looked after my mother and uncle when they were very small. When my grandparents would go out–to some fabulously Mad Men dinner party no doubt–my mother and uncle would climb the stairs to Lilian and Abelard’s apartment at the top of the house on Ridgeway Terrace and they’d have this for their supper. The original version was suitably cloaked in northwoods maple syrup rather than gussied up with spicy chiles.
Unsurprisingly, the next generation enjoyed the salty-sweet combo too, especially at dinner–the Wondertwins were particularly taken with the idea of putting maple syrup on MEAT… and at NIGHT no less. Oh, the excitement.
Mr. T, however, has always been rawther skeptical of sweet-savory combinations and this was no exception. (I blame his Englishness… one actual taste is already a bit of a challenge, two is simply beyond the pale!) So, in order to work out my cornbread and sausage jones, accomodations had to be made. And my version, while different, is just as good–perfect for a quick meal with some greens alongside and it makes for a great breakfast the next morning.
Of course, a bit of cheese wouldn’t be a bad thing either, in the batter or sprinkled on top for baking–cheddar, pepper Jack, or to be “authentic” a bit of cotija. I’ll leave that experimentation to you, though. Also note that I am firmly in the Union camp when it comes to cornbread–I like it lofty, moist, a little sweet, and taking orders from Ulysses S. Grant. In any event, I’m of the opinion that the tighter, crisper Southern version would be slightly less accommodating of all the fun things we’re tossing in.
Mex-Acadian Sausage Cornbread
Yield: ~4 servings
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 4-count package fully-cooked habanero chicken sausage (or, whatever)
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
3 green jalapeños
1/4 c cilantro, packed
1 1/4 c flour
3/4 c coarse-ground corn meal
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 c milk (of any sort)
1/4 c vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line an 8×8 square baking tin with parchment and oil very lightly. Set aside.
Put the corn in a microwave-safe bowl and (you guessed it!) nuke for a minute or so. Drain and set aside.
Put 1 tsp oil in a skillet and warm over medium heat. Cut the sausage into 1/4″ slices. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Seed and chop the jalapeños. Add the sausage, onion, garlic, and jalapeño to the pan and cook over medium heat to soften the vegetables and lightly brown the sausage–about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add the corn and cilantro.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine evenly. In a two cup glass measure, combine the milk, oil, and egg. Whisking to completely incorporate the egg. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix with a spoon till nearly combined–there will be lumps and dry patches. Dump in the sausage mixture and continue to mix till just evenly combined and there’s no dry patches.
Spread into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 min, till golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Serve with warmed salsa and, ech, sour cream, I guess…