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You’ll need your large cast iron skillet for this neo-mesa cornbread.  Although I’m not the first to pile toppings onto cornbread, I’ve never before seen a layer of goat cheese inside.  Perhaps KFC will pick up my idea and run with it, but in the meantime you can surprise your guests with this rustic yet upscale rendition of a barbecue favorite.

Makes: 15 round inches of goat-stuffed joy
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt (since we’re baking use table salt, not coarse salt)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 12-Oz. jar roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin slices
  • 4 Oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F and set the top rack to the middle position.  Heat your 15″ cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove.  If your skillet is smaller than 15″, you can make the whole recipe and discard the excess batter.  Halving this recipe should yield about enough batter for a 9″ skillet.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
  3. Add the butter to the skillet to melt.  Once the butter is melted but not quite foamy, whisk it into the buttermilk and egg mixture.  Then, whisk the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
  4. With the skillet still hot, carefully arrange the red bell pepper slices in a sunburst pattern (or whatever pattern you’d like.  I’ve got $5.00 for the first person to submit an argyle bell pepper cornbread.)
  5. Then, very carefully add half of the batter to the skillet.  Using your spatula, gently cover each slice of bell pepper with some batter.  Once the bell peppers are covered with an even layer, sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese.  Finish by adding the remaining half of the batter to cover.
  6. Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the skillet cool for 10 minutes or so, then carefully invert the pan onto a serving plate.  Slice into wedges and enjoy!

When I serve this cornbread, I like to drizzle some blue agave nectar over the whole plate.  This dish goes well with fried chicken, ribs, or a simple spice-rubbed steak.

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