Since both corn and chili peppers originated in America, it is not surprising that chili and corn bread go well together.
Scientists believe that Native American farmers in Mexico spotted the food potential in a wild plant called teosinte, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago. While no one knows for certain, most likely early farmers saved the best seeds and kept planting them until the modern plant was developed.
What we call corn is more correctly called maize. Native Americans were eating maize when the first English settlers arrived. The settlers called it corn because that was the common English word for grain. Ground into meal, corn was used to make bread long before Columbus discovered the Americas. Today corn (or maize) is one of the most important grains grown in the world.
My mother made corn bread often. Like most northern cooks she added sugar to the batter to make a slightly sweet bread. We have friends from the south who make corn bread without sugar. Both kinds are good, but I really prefer Mom’s style of corn bread.
Just this week I tried something a little different when I made corn bread to go with the white chicken chili Jerri was serving to her bridge group. I added an extra egg and beat the egg whites separately. My hope was that by folding the beaten egg whites into the batter as I do for corn meal griddle cakes, the corn bread would be lighter and more tender.
The results were as I hoped and the ladies liked it, so here is my new recipe.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
1 tsp. double-acting baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 T sugar
2 large eggs
3 T melted butter or bacon grease
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan and preheat it in the oven while combining the liquid and dry ingredients.
Sift the flour, corn meal, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Separate the eggs and beat the egg yolks into the buttermilk. Mix the buttermilk and shortening into the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture just long enough to mix it well. If necessary add a small amount of extra buttermilk.
Beat the egg whites to the stiff peak stage and fold them into the batter. Put the batter in the hot pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean the bread is done.
Remove the bread from the oven and serve immediately. This corn bread goes great with chili and is especially good with plenty of butter and honey.