As foodies gear up for football season, there's a simple yet impactful cornbread upgrade that belongs on their radar: Jalapeños and cheese. The pepper's bright, grassy flavor adds both heat and complexity to sweet-savory cornbread. The best part? To incorporate the flavorful ingredients, no fancy technique is necessary here. You can just slam the shredded cheese and jalapeño slices into your cornmeal batter and bake as normal. However, for aesthetic bonus points, you could press a few jalapeño slices into the top of your batter prior to cooking to transform it into a decorative baked-in garnish.
Feel free to get creative and customize your cornbread with different types of cheese. For a bolder bite, you could use pepper jack or extra sharp cheddar. If you prefer a milder cheese, cotija, white cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack would all work well. Whatever type of cheese you pick, just make sure it's finely shredded to ensure even, melty distribution in your batter. As a jumping-off point, start with two cups of shredded cheese for a 9 x 13-inch pan and adjust to taste in future batches.
This elevated cornbread is sturdy and easy to transport in a tin-foil-wrapped baking dish, making it the perfect dish to share at tailgates and barbecues this fall. You could even cook it over a fire in a cast iron skillet during camping trips.
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For home cooks who might not be accustomed to cooking with fresh jalapeño peppers, there are a few things to keep in mind. Jalapeños clock in somewhere between 2,5000 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. That's a pretty wide range, so be sure to taste your peppers before tossing them into your batter. If you prefer more heat, leave the pepper's membrane on; you can also add more or less diced pepper to your bread to adjust the spiciness. (Pro tip: The jalapeño's heat comes from its capsaicin, meaning green ones pack less heat than red ones. Peppers with superficial cracks tend to be particularly spicy, as well.) Most importantly, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling these bad boys. Rubbing your eyes post-cook is a big no-no. Disposable gloves might be called for.
You could also use jarred pickled jalapeño, which would cut down on prep time and add an acidic briny flair to your cornbread. (Not to mention it'd prevent an unfortunate spicy-eye-rub accident, too.) Frozen corn kernels will work great, and a can of creamed corn would create a rich texture and help the bread stay moist. Pair your spicy-sweet-savory cornbread with a steaming bowl of chili, or serve it with Walking Tacos for an unexpected playful Tex-Mex treat.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.