Whether you’re serving it up with sides of beef brisket or pulling it fresh out of the oven for breakfast to be soaked in honey and butter, cornbread is both a hearty and warming side dish. It may be a staple of American barbeque, but its roots go back to indigenous Americans, who passed their knowledge of ground corn onto early European colonisers, who then combined the unfamiliar grain with their own baking techniques. Now you can find cornbread at barbeque joints all over the world – including Fancy Hank’s on Bourke Street in Melbourne, where co-owner and executive chef Mike Patrick slathers it with a creamed-jalapeño spread.
“One of the most iconic and memorable barbeque experiences I’ve had travelling in the US is the smell of fresh-baked cornbread,” says Patrick. “Eating it with whole-hog barbeque in the south, I had never tasted anything like it before, and had to bring it back to Melbourne.”
Cornbread With Jalapeño Spread
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
200g plain flour
200g instant polenta
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
20g lard, melted (to grease pan)
70g unsalted butter, melted
175g creamed corn
½ green jalapeño chilli, chopped
150g green jalapeño chillies
50g castor sugar
50ml white vinegar
100g cream cheese
Start by making the cornbread. Slowly mix wet ingredients into dry by hand, being careful not to overmix. The result should be similar to a thick pancake mix.
Brush a 24cm cast-iron pan with the melted lard, then add the cornbread mix.
Cook on low heat on the stovetop until small bubbles appear in the lard around the edge of the cornbread mixture, then transfer to the oven at 190°C for about 40 minutes.
While the cornbread is in the oven, make the jalapeño spread. Roughly chop the chillies, then add them to a saucepan with the castor sugar and vinegar. Cook on low until reduced by half volume – it should have a jam-like consistency. Cool the chilli mixture, then mix with the softened cream cheese and salt to taste. Mix until smooth and easy to spread.
Pull the cornbread out of the oven when a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cornbread to cool slightly in pan before turning it out.
Slice and eat warm topped with a generous amount of jalapeño spread. And if you’ve got it, pulled barbequed pork.