I recently took a trip Louisville, Kentucky and fell in love – with the city, the people, and of course the food. I have always been a sucker for the comfort foods of Southern cooking and today’s Cheesy Skillet Cornbread with Cheddar and Tasso Ham is a wonderful reminder of the flavors of the South.
Cornbread is a source of contention in a lot of the country with a running debate as to which type is better, sweet or savory. People seem to be adamantly on one side or the other, but I personally love both of them. With parents from Indiana and a Midwestern mindset, it’s not surprising that corn always makes me happy, LOL.
The combination of sharp cheddar cheese from Kerrygold with the buttermilk gives this bread an almost creamy interior. I did use finely ground cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill which may have something to do with that delicate texture too. No matter the reason, this bread is heavenly!
One thing you need is a great cast iron skillet. This pan heats up to help get a crispy edge that is the perfect contrast to the creamy center. You need one with a smooth interior that will release easily – such as an antique one that you find in a garage sale. Unfortunately they are hard to find and can take a lot of work to clean and re-season. Or you can buy one like I did from the Field Company. They are a new company that are making pans the way they did when my grandmother bought hers. This was the first time I tried making something that could have stuck badly to the bottom and sides, but it lifted right out! I bought mine as part of their Kickstarter (this page will give you tons of info on how the developed their pans) – you can email them (email@example.com) and they will send you more information. I highly recommend this pan!
I have made many versions of cornbread in the past but never one with meat in it. How is that possible? The carnivore in me is rebelling. 😉 Kerrygold’s original recipe is made with bacon and is no doubt fabulous, but I have had a hankering for Tasso ham and this was the perfect vehicle for it. Expect the Tasso to show up in other recipes in the next few weeks – I bought two pieces and will be finding new ways to enjoy my favorite ham!
The first time I had a bowl of jambalaya I was smitten. The heat from the Andouille sausage hit me first, but there was an intriguing smokiness that I couldn’t place. The source of that deliciousness turned out to be Tasso ham.
Tasso is smoky, spicy, and salty with a touch of sweetness. You will often find it used in traditional Cajun dishes like etouffee, jambalaya, and gumbo. Each brand uses a different seasoning base, so taste the tasso to see how spicy it is, and adjust your recipes accordingly. If you don’t like spicy foods, you can cut off the spice rubbed coating.
Tasso can be challenging to find which is why I ordered it from D’Artagnan foods. They have a very wide variety of outstanding quality products. If you are looking for hard-to-find meats and poultry, D’Artagnan is for you! You will see some duck breasts posted at the end of the month and I will be ordering them from D’Artagnan too!
For a luscious, creamy, and savory style cornbread, this is the recipe that will transcend all others! And if you are the kind that loves sweet cornbread, don’t miss this honey cornbread recipe from Sherry Yard (the Spago standard cornbread recipe!) that is the perfect sweet counterpoint to spicy chili!
I hope you all have a terrific weekend. I’m off to have another slice of this amazing Cheddar Skillet Cornbread with Tasso Ham!
See you for Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you are a cornbread lover like me, make both kinds and serve one as a side dish with dinner and the sweet one as dessert. I call that a double win! LOL
There are no inherent gluten ingredients in tasso (a Cajun smoked ham), but it is always important to contact the manufacturer to be sure of its safety. I used D’Artagnan brand tasso which is gluten-free. If in doubt, you can leave it out. Add 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder to approximate the spiciness, heat, and smoky flavor of the tasso. If you want the smoke without heat, use smoked paprika.
- 1/4 lb (114g) tasso ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, bacon drippings, or duck fat, etc.
- Dry Ingredients
- 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 3/4 cup (90g) yellow cornmeal (I like finely ground)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
- Wet Ingredients
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 oz (1/4 cup; 57g) Kerrygold salted butter, melted
- 1 cup grated Kerrygold Aged Cheddar or Vintage Dubliner Cheese
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (green part only)
- 1/4 cup grated Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese
- Additional green onions, optional
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Warm the Tasso Ham: Pour the oil in a 9-inch cast iron skillet and use a paper towel to brush the inside sides of the pan with the oil. Heat over medium heat and add the Tasso ham, cooking to infuse the flavor into the oil. When warmed through, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and remove from the heat.
- Mix the Batter: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and melted butter. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, the scallions, and ham. Pour into the oiled skillet.
- Bake the Cornbread: Place the skillet into the hot oven and bake until it is golden at the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Pull out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese over the top, return to the oven for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan at least 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle the extra green onions over the top. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the bread around the edges, then slice and serve.
- MAKE AHEAD: You can bake it earlier in the day, cover with foil and it will stay moist until dinner and can be served at room temperature.
- Yield: about 8 servings
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