Cornbread Casserole A Cheap, Easy Side

Regular readers of this blog will know I like my cornbread Southern style. That means very savory, not sweet. To me, most cornbreads and cornbread mixes are just too sweet, reminding me more of a cake. I suppose that might work for corn muffins, which should be a little sweet. But Southern-style cornbread has very little sugar, just enough to bring out the sweetness of the corn.

But there are times when you need a sweeter base to balance spicy chili peppers alongside whole-kernel corn. This is a modification of several recipes brought together to create a really tasty side dish.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it is both cheap and delicious without becoming overwhelming. It goes great with beans, greens, and protein.

Preparation time is only about five minutes. The casserole cooks for an hour in the oven. It can easily be doubled if serving a crowd. Doubling with a 9X13 baking dish will give you 16 servings.

Assemble Your Ingredients

The central ingredient here is a boxed corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy. You can usually pick these up for less than a dollar. From the Canned Goods aisle, you need to pick up a can of Mexi-corn. Once again, you might have to settle for a name-brand can of whole-kernel corn with small chili peppers mixed in. Along with that, you’ll need a can of creamed corn. Now, personally, I’m not a big fan of creamed corn. It’s a bit like eating baby food. But in this application, it adds just the right amount of moisture to the batter. From the Dairy Aisle, you’ll need some shredded cheese. You can use whatever blend you like. And you will need an egg, which you might already have at home. And you need one whole stick of butter. That’s right, a whole quarter-pound. Again, you might already have a package at home. Make sure you use unsalted butter.

That, a spatula, and a mixing bowl and you now have your ingredients to begin your prep.

A Note About Ingredients

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of cooking from scratch whenever possible. That means I would usually make a pan of cornbread over using a boxed mix. My biggest complaint about the boxed mix is that it is too sweet for someone who grew up on Southern Cooking. However, in this case, the sweetness works very well with the sweet corn and cheese.

Let The Oven Do The Rest

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (175°C). Make sure the rack is in the center position. Then grease or spray your 4×7-inch pan.

In your large mixing bowl, combine, the two cans of corn, only draining the Mexi-corn liquid. Use a microwave-safe dish for your stick of butter, remove the paper, and melt it in the microwave on high for up to 3 minutes. Next, add in all the rest of the ingredients: milk, beaten egg, cornbread/muffin mix and shredded cheese. Fold them together until they form a thick batter. Be careful not to overmix the batter, it will make the dish tougher.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan that has been thoroughly sprayed with cooking spray. You can also line the pan with parchment paper and spray that, sticking the paper to the pan. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or mostly clean. This will be a little more moist than the usual cornbread, with the sweetness of corn, the chewiness of the cheese and crust, and the custardy texture of the cornbread. That little touch of spice from the peppers also helps this dish taste so good.

As with all baked goods, you want to let it sit in the pan out of the oven for at least five minutes. Then cut into six to eight portions and enjoy. This is a sweet side that would go well with a bowl of chili or spicy shrimp.

Use A Lean Protein To Compliment This Slightly Sweet Side Dish

This is not a low-fat dish. Remember, there’s a whole stick of butter in there. It weighs in at a total of 21 grams of fat per serving, nearly half of that is saturated fat, the bad fat. That means it’s rich in cholesterol, 44 milligrams per serving (1/8th of dish). But if you add a lean protein, like a chicken breast, alongside a heaping spoonful of Cornbread Casserole you’ve got a good start to a balanced meal. All you need is something green, like a salad or a side of peas or steamed broccoli.