One Sunday a month, the young adults from my church come over to our home for lunch and my husband cooks. Even if you’ve never tried feeding 40-60 hungry young people from a small home kitchen, you can still imagine the mayhem that goes on in there. Yet, a messy kitchen and a ton of cleaning after is a price we are willing to pay to inspire young people to cook (and clean!) by getting them involved in preparing wholesome, made-from-scratch meals.
What works best when feeding a large crowd is a hearty one-dish meal. So this month, we drew our inspiration from the South with some Chili con Carne served with the quintessential cornbread. Chili, the official dish of the state of Texas, is a stew that contains chili peppers, tomatoes, beans and meat (carne in Spanish). It is often eaten with cornbread, which used to be a traditional staple in places where wheat flour was more expensive.
I’d never made cornbread before, but in the last one week I’ve tried 3 different cornbread recipes in search of a good one. The first one I tried was from a baking textbook whose recipes usually work really well. However, the cornbread turned out very dense, dry and flavourless. Then I turned to the ‘Queen of the Southern cooking’ Paula Deen, whose recipe was moister and buttery, but it also had a strong egg flavour and not much else. Finally, I tried The Neely’s recipe for honey corn muffins and found that to be the perfect balance – fluffy, moist, slightly sweet but not overly so. The honey in this recipe is not so much to sweeten the muffin, but to bring all the ingredients into harmony to produce one versatile muffin that can be eaten as an accompaniment to a savoury dish like chili. Or simply add in a cup of blueberries or corn kernels and have it as a breakfast or snack muffin.
The method used to make cornbread is the muffin method, which is probably the easiest method in baking. All you need to do is sift the dry ingredients together, stir wet ingredients together, and then combine the two! This recipe can be made in less than an hour, maybe even half an hour if you’re fast. In fact, the recipe is so fast to put together that your best bet for success is to get everything prepared (preheat oven, line muffin tin etc.) before you even start mixing the ingredients. Ready? Set, go!
Honey Cornbread Muffins
(Recipe from The Neelys)
Yields: 12 muffins
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin by lining with muffin paper liners.
2. Into a large bowl, sift the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl/jug, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey.
4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed and no lumps are visible.
5. Fill muffin tin with the cornbread mixture. Bake for ~ 12-15 minutes, until golden.
6. Cool and enjoy with a hot bowl of chili or roast chicken!