My household was no different. There always seemed to be a black cast iron frying pan sitting in the middle of the dinner table whenever we had gumbo, chili, mustard greens, or stew. I still use that pan today for many dishes (I guess it’s been in constant use for 70-80 years. As a treat, my mother made what she called Texas Corn Bread in the 50’s. She never wrote down the recipe, but I knew what the ingredients were. A few years ago, I found a recipe with the same ingredients in a cookbook called TEXAS- The Beautiful Cookbook. I altered the recipe reflect how I remember my mother making it 50 years ago. 16 years ago, when Sally and I were in the west Texas town of Albany for Polo on the Prairie (an annual fundraiser for MD Anderson Cancer Center), we brought back a Texas-shaped cast-iron corn bread pan and now the corn bread seems better.
I posted a photograph above of the corn bread on my Facebook page and had many requests for the recipe. Here is the recipe with alterations to reflect my memories of it and the use of as many Texas suppliers and products of Texas ingredients as possible:
· ¼ cup canola oil
· 1 (4 oz.) can of chopped poblano chile (or roasted mild Hatch chiles) I like to roast one Poblano pepper on my gas grille and chop it after removing the skin.
· 1 minced fresh jalapeño pepper (This may be mild, as it is for flavor rather than heat).
· 2 teaspoons minced jarred pimiento
· 1 (15 oz) can of cream-style corn
· ½ cup of sour cream
· 1 cup of finely-ground yellow corn meal (I use Pioneer, as it’s from the “oldest family owned” company in Texas).
· 2 teaspoons of baking powder
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I use local Texas artisan cheddar cheese from Pola Artisan Cheese, also available at Eastside Farmers Market).
· Grease a 9-inch cast-iron frying pan and place in the oven. I use Falfurrias butter to grease the pan, as it’s a Texas product. It is important to grease the bottom well, as the moist inside may break and not release the corn bread in one piece.
You’ve never seen corn bread batter like this.
· Preheat to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and oil until well blended. Add the poblanos, jalapeños, pimiento, corn, sour cream, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and 1 ½ cup of the cheese. If you care to, add two or three canned chipotle peppers in adodo… drained and finely chopped . Stir with a wooden spoon until well-combined.
Ready for the oven
· Remove the pre-heated frying pan from the oven and pour the batter into it. It will sizzle as you pour the batter into the hot grease (I use Falfurrias butter to grease the pan, as it’s a Texas product). Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes and is golden brown. At 45 minutes, the corn bread will be very moist and will have a slight custard texture to it due to the sour cream, creamed corn and melted cheese. If you want the flavor of the ingredients but a texture closer to traditional corn bread, bake it for 60-75 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. All baking recipes say that, but the toothpick comes out clean long before it’s done.
· Cut the cornbread into wedges and place the pan on the table on a trivet. Serve hot directly from the pan. When using the Texas-shaped pan, I like to start with the panhandle of Texas, but the tastiest piece includes El Paso and Big Bend National Park.
All photographs are by Jack Tyler.