Sunday, 13 May 2018

Spicy Cornbread - Naturally Gluten Free

This is delicious served as a side dish to a good chilli con carne, or veggie chilli, especially fresh from the oven!

It's also very easy and quick to make - you just need to soak the toasted corn for a few hours or overnight / during the day first, then a quick mix and pop it into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes!

It's a lovely, tasty accompaniment to chilli, crusty on the outside and soft and moist on the inside - if you don't want it especially spicy you could just use half a red chilli and skip the jalepenos, or cut all the chilli out altogether if you prefer.

I haven't tried making this with any dairy free substitutes, as yet, as the reaction between the buttermilk and the bicarb is part if what makes it light and fluffy - so if any of my dairy-free or vegan friends or followers do make it with a dairy free substitute, I'd love to hear what you used and how you got on. Buttermilk essentially tastes like yoghurt, but is a bit thinner, and has a very low fat content - so if you can't get hold of it, then you could just use regular plain low fat yoghurt and thin it down a little with water.

Cuts into 8 or 12 wedges, serves 8 to 12 as a side to a main meal. 116 calories for a twelfth wedge, 173 calories for an eighth, if you're counting.

[Calories in square brackets]

  • 200g polenta or finely ground cornmeal (check gluten free, e.g. Biona organic - some are 'may contain') [712]
  • 300ml buttermilk (or use slightly thinned down plain yoghurt if you can't get hold of buttermilk) [141]
  • 30g butter (or you could use strained leftover bacon fat for extra flavour) [221]
  • 1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped [6]
  • 30g sliced jalepeno chillies from a jar, drained and finely chopped [7]
  • 75g sweetcorn (from a tin, or frozen, optionally roughly chopped - you could pulse in a small blender) [58]
  • 1 tsp baking powder (ensure gluten free) [3]
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp golden caster or soft brown sugar [30]
  • Salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten [208]

1. Toast the polenta / cornmeal in a dry frying pan for 5 minutes or so, stirring, until some of it is starting to turn a light golden brown, and it's fragrant (make sure you don't burn / scorch it) then remove from the heat. Put half of it into a bowl with the buttermilk and set aside for about 3 hours (or overnight / during the day - in which case refrigerate for the majority). Set the remaining half of the polenta aside (cover, or put into an airtight container once cool.

2. When the polenta has soaked, and you're ready to bake the cornbread, pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 7 / 220C / 200C Fan oven and stir the chopped chillies and sweetcorn into the remaining dry polenta until they're evenly distributed, then stir in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste).

3. Melt the butter in a 25-26cm cast iron ovenproof frying pan or round casserole dish (something like Le Creuset which won't stick, e.g. with an enamel coating inside is perfect - I use a Le Creuset style cast iron casserole dish thats got a 26cm diameter which is perfect). Pour the melted butter into the wet polenta/buttermilk mixture and stir in. Leave the residue in the pan and place back on the heat.

4. Mix the eggs into the wet polenta mix, then mix in all the other ingredients, combine quickly and thoroughly, and then pour the batter straight into the hot pan (it should sizzle!), then place into the middle of the hot oven for about 15-20 minutes until it is firm in the middle.

5. Meanwhile, optionally pre-heat your grill (US broiler) if you want to brown the top of your cornbread for a nice crispy crust (not essential, it will still be delicious if you don't!). When it comes out of the oven and is cooked through, it will probably only be a light yellow/golden colour on top, so if you want to give it a bit more colour, just pop it under the grill for a couple of minutes until it is coloured to your liking, and then serve up fresh and warm, cut into wedges!

Need a good recipe for a chilli? Well, whether you want veggie or meat chilli, I have a recipe for both! My black bean and buternut squash recipe (which is also vegan) is here, and I have a delicious recipe for chilli con carne here (which you can even make in the pressure cooker for extra speediness!).

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