Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread

Deb, you got me again! Smitten Kitchen does not yield up her goat cheese recipes by a simple ingredient search, you have to stumble across them. And stumble I did, finding this delicious recipe for a cornbread so northern and savory, I will just have to have it on my go-to list as an accompaniment to thick winter soups!

This is an incredibly moist nontraditional cornbread with a great flavor and mild sweetness. The goat cheese adds a subtle tang. Not aggressive, just very pleasant!

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal (also packaged as “polenta”) but regular old cornmeal will also work.
2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons oil, butter or a combination thereof
1 cup onion in a 3/4-inch dice (you could also go up to 2 cups, if you’re really into the caramelized onion thing)
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (.05 ounce) baking soda
1 teaspoon (.25 ounce) salt
6 ounce log of goat cheese, at room temperature for a good while, so it’s very soft
2 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) honey
1/4 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large (5 ounces) eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, mleted
2 1/2 cups (16 ounces) fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bacon fat, vegetable oil or butter

The night before baking the cornbread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight. [Though this step is optional, you might appreciate it if you use coarse cornmeal or if you often find cornbread on the gritty side.] If you don’t do this in advance, mix them in before you start the next step.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

The next day, prepare the onions. Heat a large saute pan to medium and coat the bottom with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, butter or a combination thereof. Add the onions and cook them until they’re well-caramelized with browned edges. Season with salt and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each. (It may look a little curdly at this point, don’t worry. It all comes back together in the oven.) Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined and then gently stir in the corn kernels, mixing them until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place two tablespoons of bacon fat, vegetable oil or butter in a 10 inch round cake pan (you can also use a cast-iron skillet, 9 by 13-inch baking pan or a 12-inch square pan). Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fat gets very hot. With good pot holders, remove the pan and tilt it to grease the corners and sides. Pour in the batter, spreading it evenly and sprinkle the caramelized onion evenly over the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and springing (the baking time will depend on the size and type of pan) and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges. Serve immediately.

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