I like this week’s challenge, chosen by Ezra Pound Cake, because I found my all-time favorite corn bread recipe just last month. But the thing is, I love sweet, delicate, almost dessert-like corn bread. Skillet corn bread cooked in bacon fat has many devotees, I know, but I haven’t found a recipe that’s a keeper. The worst offenders taste dry and stale even at the very moment they emerge from the oven, and I don’t think corn bread should need to be slathered with tablespoons of butter just to keep it from gumming up on the roof of your mouth. Not a great image, there. But it makes the point. And by the way, I’m all for slathering things with butter, lots and lots of butter, but as a way of adding more flavor, not masking dryness.
All of this is to say I was happy to try Dorie’s recipe for savory corn muffins because they looked like they could be light and tender, but not at all sweet. They’re studded with bell pepper and jalapenos and there’s a hearty dose of chili powder to boot. So perhaps they would allow me to cross off sweetness as a prerequisite for great corn bread and just stick with light and tender. Well….?
Oh, yes. These muffins knock the socks off all other savory corn bread recipes I’ve tried. They’re delicate, the cornmeal gives them a lovely bite, and they’re just loaded with spicy flavor. The zing was a bit much for my 3-year-old — after all, there’s an entire minced jalapeno in there — but they’re just right with a cold beer.