Friday, April 4, 2008

Cornbread festival hits a dozen

The South's mecca for cast iron, South Pittsburg, Tenn., will celebrate its 12th Annual National Cornbread Festival April 26-27. South Pittsburg, home to Lodge cast iron, is about 2.5 hours northeast of Anniston and an easy drive for the festival.

The event features, naturally, cornbread, music, Southern food and a host of cook-offs and celebrity chef appearances.

Several years ago, to mark the annual festival, The Star hosted a cornbread cookoff. Lula Ponder of Weaver turned in a recipe for Jalapeno Cornbread that still gets rave reviews anytime I make it. If you can't get coarse (water-ground, or heirloom, as fancy folks put it) corn meal locally, then Anson Mills produces heirloom grains and meals.

1 3/4 cup coarse corn meal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
garlic powder to taste
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 8-ounce can cream-style corn
2 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 and get your skillet hot (along with 1 tablespoon of oil) by putting it in the oven while you mix your batter.

Combine the dry ingredients; add the onion, cheese, jalapeno. Mix well, then add remaining ingredients, using enough buttermilk to get a good pouring consistency. Put in hot skillet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.