I'm here to sing the praises of one of America's favorite side dishes ...corn bread. It might surprise you to know that it is a popular dish in Canada too although as a farmgirl from Northern Ontario, I grew up calling it Johnycake.
Anyway, there's many different ways to make and serve this down home hunk of goodness and there's even a whole bunch of 'em right here on this site but I'm here to prove there's more to cornbread than what you think.
Don't tell anyone but I've been known to layer the batter on a bed of browned sausage links, bake and serve it with warmed maple syrup for breakfast. I've also added crumbled bacon to the batter and topped it with apple slices and cinnamon sugar. Brought to the table hot from the oven, it's been called breakfast, dinner and dessert.
For another somethin' somethin', here's a Chicken & Cornbread Casserole that was a surefire hit in our household and a great way to satisfy a recent craving for Mexican flavors. Simply jazzed up cornbread hit with chile powder, cumin, chopped green chiles and creamed corn and baked in a large cast iron skillet, the fun begins after the pan leaves the oven. Pierced with a fork, drizzled with red enchilada sauce, topped with shredded cooked chicken and a mountain of grated cheese, the pan hits the oven to warm through.
Sliced in wedges and topped with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or a pile of pickled jalapenos to Big Guy's delight, it is a testament to ingenuity, imagination and the joys of good old corn bread.
By the way, here's a link to the original source of the recipe at Cooking Light, but you'll notice I've taken the liberty of changing the title of my version. After having lived in Tucson, AZ so close to the Mexican border and enjoying many real honest to goodness tamales, there's no way I can call this one a tamale casserole. It is what it is - jazzed up turbo charged corn bread and it is delicious.
Chicken and Corn Bread Casserole from JBug’s Kitchen Antics adapted from Cooking Light
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal (I used coarse ground but fine is OK too)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup grated Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 – 14 ounce can cream style corn
2 roasted green chiles seeded & chopped or 1 – 6 ounce can
1 – 10 ounce can red enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salsa, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Sliced Jalapenos as garnish
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 11 or 12 inch cast iron with cooking spray and place in oven to warm. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cornmeal, chile powder, cumin, cayenne and cheese. In a small bowl beat eggs and buttermilk together. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and add creamed corn, green chiles, and egg/buttermilk mixture. Fold together just until ingredients come together. Pour into heated cast iron skillet and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and immediately poke surface with a fork. Pour enchilada sauce over top. Add chicken and sprinkle cheese on top. Return to the oven to warm – 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve garnished with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and/or jalapenos. Makes 8 servings.