Cornbread, blue skillet

This recipe adapted from the 1993 Southwestern Indian Recipe Book: Apache, Papago, Pima, Pueblo, and Navajo by Zora Getmansky Hesse (The Filter Press, Palmer Lake, Colorado), and is from a modern Pueblo recipe.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

I use an iron skillet to cook this cornbread; you could also use a greased 8″ square pan. Lower the temperature 25° if it is of glass rather than metal.

Take up to three slices of bacon and chop coarsely. Render slowly in an iron skillet, stirring frequently. When most of the fat is cooked out, remove the crispy meaty bits from the pan, leaving the fat. If you want to skip the bacon, just melt butter in the skillet in the oven. Tip and rotate the pan so the fat coats the pan on the bottom and the sides as high as the batter will flow.

Slide skillet into the oven to get hot. The oven does not have to have reached the cooking temperature, and the skillet and the oven can heat together.

Meanwhile, mix together in a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 ½ cups blue cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2–3 tablespoons sugar

In a separate smaller bowl, mix:

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2–3 tablespoons bacon fat from the skillet (add melted butter or vegetable oil, if you don’t want to use the bacon fat)
  • ½–1 4-oz. can of green chilis, chopped

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well in just a few strokes. Pour the batter into the hot skillet (or greased baking pan). Return filled skillet to oven.

Bake for about 25–30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Optional: cook some chopped onion with the bacon (or separately) until soft, and add to the wet ingredients.

Optional: substitute yellow cornmeal. It won’t have the nutty flavor of the blue cornmeal, but still will be tasty.

Optional : lightly coat ½ cup raisins with wheat flour, and gently stir into batter.

Optional : add some chopped fresh jalapeños or poblanos, or the chilis of your choice to the rendering bacon instead of the canned chilis. Consider the chilis optional but extremely tasty, and preferred in Puebloan recipes!