Chili and Cornbread are the new Hall and Oates

Dear Chili,

hey.  how ya doin?  It’s been a long time.  In fact, I think the last time we saw each other was the Chili Cookoff at work in March.  That was a great time, wasn’t it?  Remember I had you slowcooking in a crockpot in a corner of the office all morning, filing the room and hall with your gorgeous and spicy aroma, eventually making me so hungry that I almost killed a bear?  Ahh, memories.

It’s good to see you.  We had a good time tonight, you and I and Cornbread.  Cornbread is such a funny, reliable guy.  The two of you together are like a perfect pair and the three of us, well three’s company.  It was great when I diced a small medium onion and sweated it out in a couple good tablespoons of olive oil in my cast iron Dutch oven.  That’s the perfect pan for evenings like this.  You love how nice and hot that pan keeps you.  I know.  And on a rainy day like today, it’s especially excellent.  And then I chopped up three cloves of garlic and a poblano and green bell pepper and added them in with some salt and pepper, finishing out our little magic trinity.  Just that bit made the entire kitchen smell intoxicating.

And while those were cooking away, Cornbread began making his appearance—first with some yellow cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, then eggs, buttermilk and a generous amount of melted butter.  He sat around for awhile, but after getting used to the place, into the oven he went and things began to really heat up.

I added a two chicken breasts to your pan, a generous dusting of cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper, and then a handful of fresh thyme sprigs.  I’m sorry if they were a bit scratchy at first, but you softened them up and got them talking and joining in the fun, like you always do.  And then when the can of tomato puree and the two cans of unsalted black beans–the Twins–joined in, you were finally complete.

I had a great time watching you bubble away for an hour, all of your delectable flavors mingling and chatting like the best of old friends.  When the time came to pull apart the chicken breasts, and Cornbread was browning up in the oven, I knew that soon our magical evening together would have to come to an end eventually.

I poured you into a good sized bowl, so thick, so flavorful, so welcoming.  And with a nice chunk of Cornbread on the side, all slathered with melted butter, the three of us were so happy.  And as I slowly ate my way through your comforting depths, I thought, you know, this is it.  This is the good life.  With friends like these, I will never go hungry.

Well, I’m full now, Chili.  Thanks to you and Cornbread.  I’m off now to see Oatmeal Cookie and then it’s off to bed.  Thanks for the good times.  You should come around again soon.

Until then,


Buttery Cornbread

* 1 1/3 cups coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal
* 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup sugar* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
* 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 extra tablespoon melted, set aside
* 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan. Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and coarse salt in large bowl. Add buttermilk, melted butter, and beaten eggs. Stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Let mixture stand 30 minutes to absorb liquid. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake bread until browned around edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let bread rest in pan 5 minutes.

Poke holes in bread with fork or toothpick over and over.  Pour extra tablespoon of melted butter over bread.  Cut and serve.

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