Sage Cornbread · GF (one 10" round)
Despite the honey, don’t mistake this for a sweet Yankee cornbread. It adds only a faint hint of sweetness, but more importantly keeps the cornbread moist. I always bring a skillet of sage cornbread to my dad before Thanksgiving, so he can incorporate it into his legendary Sausage Sage Pecan Stuffing. Obviously, if sage ain’t your thing, feel free to omit it.
Sage Cornbread, one 10” wheel
5 1/2 ounces yellow cornmeal
4 1/2 ounces AP flour (see GF blend below)
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 ounce sage leaves
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 ounces honey
8 1/2 ounces buttermilk
2 egg yolks
to brush the pan: 1 Tablespoon safflower or coconut oil (or lard, if you’ve got it)
optional: 1 Tablespoon stone or coarsely ground grits
Toss a 10” cast iron skillet into a cold oven, then preheat to 400°. Give it a 30 minute head start before you whip up the cornbread. This guarantees skillet is perfectly hot on the bottom and sides, which makes for the crispiest, crackling crust.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sage in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a minute, until the sage leaves have nearly disappeared. Using a food processor extracts maximum sage flavor, but feel free to simply mince the sages leaves instead, then whisk the dry ingredients together.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, honey, buttermilk, egg and yolks. Whisk until well combined, then add the dry ingredients and stir with a flexible spatula until the batter looks uniform throughout.
Pull the hot skillet from the oven, and use a pastry brush to generously coat the bottom and sides with oil. If you like, sprinkle a Tablespoon of grits over the bottom to add some bonus-crunch to the crust. Pour in the cornbread batter, and use the back of a spatula to spread it edge to edge.
Bake until the cornbread feels firm to the touch and the crust looks golden, about 25 minutes. If you plan to use the cornbread for stuffing, bake it an additional 10 minutes to help dry it out.
Once baked, run a dull knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the cornbread, then invert onto a cutting board or plate. Enjoy with copious amounts of butter and molasses.
Store leftover cornbread in an airtight container for two or three days at room temperature. To rewarm, wrap each slice in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 20 seconds.
If making cornbread for Stuffing., it can be frozen up to six months in advance. Cool the cornbread to room temperature, break it in half, and chuck it into a gallon sized zip top bag. Frozen cornbread has a crumbly texture, so I don’t like to eat it on its own, but that texture’s perfect for stuffing, and a huge time saver when it comes to Thanksgiving prep.
Gluten Free: replace the all purpose flour with 2 ounces Tapioca starch and 2 ounces white rice flour. This version actually turns out lighter and fluffier than the original.
Jalapeños: This is the version I always make to go with chili. Stir in about 3 ounces of thinly sliced, pickled jalapeños (more or less to taste). For raw jalapeños, you’ll only want to use one or two, seeded, veined, and minced.
Cheddar: mix 4 ounces coarsely shredded cheddar cheese into the batter. You’re welcome.