James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Gluten-free Texas Cornbread

This just may be the best cornbread recipe ever.  It was given to me many years ago by my late friend, Viola Campbell, who got it from Georgia Hughes, an old Texas friend of hers.  It is deliciously moist and is slightly spicy from fresh jalapeño chiles.  And it is naturally gluten-free because there’s no flour of any kind in the cornbread.The recipe calls for cornmeal and fresh corn kernels.  And that’s it for the grains!  For best results, use stone ground cornmeal.  The recipe also says to use bacon drippings, which gives this cornbread a special smoky flavor.  If you cook a lot of bacon and collect the drippings, by all means use them.  If not, you can use browned butter instead.  Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat and cook it for a few minutes until it turns a toasty nut brown color.  Watch carefully so that the butter doesn’t burn.  Cool to room temperature before adding to the recipe.  For best results, bake the cornbread in a cast-iron skillet.  It’ll have a nice brown crust all over.  You must preheat the pan until it is piping hot in the oven before pouring in the batter.

Georgia Hughes’s Gluten-free Texas Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1 small jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from the cob (about 2 ears)

1/3 cup bacon drippings or browned butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese

Smear a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square metal baking pan with vegetable shortening.  (Do not use butter; it will burn).  Place on the center rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  The pan must heat for 15 minutes.  A few minutes longer is okay.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and sugar.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork to combine well.  Stir in the buttermilk, onion, jalapeños, pimientos, garlic, corn, and bacon drippings or butter.  Add to the cornmeal mixture and stir to combine well.  Stir in the cheese.

Carefully remove the pan from oven and set it on a hot pad.  Scrape in the batter and level it.  Immediately return the pan to the oven and bake about 20 minutes, or until the cornbread is nicely browned on top and springs back when lightly pressed.

Cool in the pan a few minutes, then cut into wedges or squares.  Serve hot with lots of butter.

Makes 8 servings.



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