Charred Corn & Serrano Cornbread
Paula: Lately I’ve been obsessed with baking on the grill. There have been brownies with a smoky “bark,” apple galettes, and smoked date sticky pudding. I don’t know why it took me so long to get to cornbread.
Scott: The PK Grill is so good for baking and the portability of it means you don’t have to leave baking behind now when you cook outside whether it’s on your back porch or camping or tailgating. I’m excited for this “true” cornbread recipe because of the char flavor you incorporate by blistering the corn and serranos on the grill.
Paula: The nubby texture of the batter (I use coarsely ground cornmeal) absorbs a whiff of wood smoke as well, which gives a Southern classic more depth and intrigue. And because it bakes in about 30 minutes, it’s easy to maintain a steady internal temperature. Hey, if you plan to prepare this in your favorite State Park, premix the dry ingredients and bring them along in a sealable plastic bag.
Scott: I’ll bring the butter and honey.
Charred Corn & Serrano Cornbread
The reason the batter should sizzle when it hits the pan? Preheating the cast iron skillet before baking creates a crisp and deeply flavored exterior. If fresh corn on the cob isn’t available, feel free to use thawed frozen corn kernels. (You can mimic the flavor of grilled corn by charring the kernels in a very hot skillet or wok.) For the best flavor, use the best quality corn meal (ideally stone ground) you can find.
2 cobs sweet corn
1-2 serrano chiles, as desired for heat
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon F&S STREET CORN Seasoning
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 large egg
8 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat, butter, or vegetable oil, for greasing
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, clean and oil the grill. Grill the corn and serranos over direct heat, turning as needed, until blistered on all sides and then remove from heat. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over indirect heat, close grill and allow the pan to heat for at least 30 minutes.
When the corn and serranos are cool enough to handle, trim the kernels from the cob (you should have a generous cup), and stem, seed, and finely chop the chiles, and set aside while you prepare the batter.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and F&S STREET CORN Seasoning in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, egg, and six tablespoons of melted butter.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Use a fork or rubber spatula to stir together until evenly combined. Fold in the corn and the chiles.
Remove the skillet from the grill (the internal temp should be 400℉), add the bacon fat or oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Pour the batter into the hot skillet, spread evenly, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes (adjusting airflow as needed to maintain a steady temperature) until lightly golden and the center of the cornbread is firm and springy to the touch.
Remove corn bread from heat, place on a wire rack to cool, run the remaining two tablespoons of butter over the hot cornbread until it’s completely melted. Serve warm, or cool the cornbread in the skillet and serve at room temperature.