15 October 2013

Adobo Double-Cornbread

Soup, stew and chili are all wonderful in their own right, but they're not complete until they have a big, bready accoutrement to accompany them down the hatch.  Crackers are lovely for their crunch, baguettes for their chewy texture and breadsticks for their dunk-ability.  But perhaps my favorite of all carbs to serve alongside a big bowl of *insert soup here* is cornbread.  There is something about that crumby, grainy, subtly-sweet and corny bread that feeds my soul in a way no other can.  And this little adobo cornbread is without a doubt my new favorite.  Move over, ciabatta....momma's got a brand new bread (recipe).

There are two things that set this bread apart, both listed right there in the name.  Adobo and double.  So let's start at the beginning and work our way through.

Adobo is this fabulous concoction of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and vinegar in which foods are preserved or stored.  Basically, it's everything tasty about Spanish marinade.  Chipotle peppers in adobo are these wonderful little powerhouses of soft smokey flavor that absolutely blow my mexi-loving mind.  They are awesome fried up with eggplant, mixed into an omelet or combined with cream cheese as a fabulous sandwich schmear. They have an incredibly smokey flavor and a whopping spicy flavor, letting a little go a long way.  I love this stuff.  The hubs, however, is significantly less nutty about adobo.  He can take a dish every month or so, but needs and adobo-break in between.  Luckily, the peppers keep like a dream in the refrigerator.  We usually will open a can, use a few peppers, pop the rest in a jar and store in the fridge, using them slowly until they're gone.  So that's the adobo.

Moving right along, let's dive into the double.  Let's start by clarifying that we are not talking about corn kernels as the double factor.  It is nothing added...It is just altered.  For about a year I've wanted to give It a try but have always chickened out at the last moment, afterwards lamenting while shamefully stuffing my face It-free cornbread.  It's pretty great and I'm very proud but really It's not as exciting as the build up I've created...so let's stop and share.  It is masa harina, fabulous flour made from corn that is used to make tortillas, tamales, arepas and almost every other delicious Latin American carb you can imagine.  The texture is finer than cornmeal but less processed than corn starch.  It's a wonderful, quick-cooking alternative to wheat flour for gluten free households.

After reading comments I've seen on other cornbread recipes, I feel this must be blatantly stated.  This is NOT a Southern cornbread.  It contains sugar.  Why?  Because that's how the hubs and I like it.  I do use significantly less sugar than many recipes on the internet, but it is a Yankee cornbread and therefore slightly sweet.  Plus it's yummy.  Boo-yah.

Having grown up with a mom who served butter and honey with cornbread, I have never been a big fan of jalapeno or cheesy varieties.  But somehow in this bread, the spice works.  The subtle smokey adobo just plays on your palate with the sweet, tender cornbread.  The masa harina amplifies the corn flavor of the bread for a side like no other you've ever tried.  Also, the slightly yellow color of the flour and adobo sauce result in a darker bread with a lovely rich color.  We had this last week with our favorite black bean soup and a bottle of red wine, a killer combo in which the cornbread totally held its own.

The hubs loves this with butter and honey, but I'm happy just to dunk a chunk in some broth.  Be it honeyed or plain, you will love this with your next bowl of steaming soup.

Adobo Double-Cornbread
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c sugar (or 1/4 if you don't like a slightly sweet bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 tsp adobo paste
  • 1 c buttermilk*
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1 c masa harina (or any other flour you like)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 red chilis in adobo, chopped
  • butter and honey, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the butter a 2 quart pot and set over medium-low heat.  While the butter melts, use the butter wrapper to grease an 8x8 baking dish.  Once melted, remove the butter from heat and add the sugar.  Mix together with a whisk.  Add the eggs and adobo paste, then whisk again until smooth.

Add the baking soda to the buttermilk to activate, then pour into the butter mixture and stir to combine.  Add the cornmeal, corn flour and salt and stir until no lumps remain.  Stir in the chopped red chilies.  Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove to a hot pad or wire rack.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with butter and honey, if desired, and a bowl of your favorite soup or stew (this is killer with black bean!).  Slice and store in a air-tight container for 3-4 days on the counter.  Leftover pieces can be wrapped in plastic wrapped and frozen in a Ziplock bag for several months.

*To make your own buttermilk, pour one tablespoon of lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill to the one cup line, letting sit for 10 minutes before use.

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