There are two schools of thought on cornbread. One says that cornbread should be a hearty and savory bread, and that a plainer cornbread is better for soaking up the flavor of chilis and sauces. The members of the other school prefer a sweeter, cakier cornbread. I am definitely in the latter school of thought and I like sweeter cornbread. I like the softer texture and it seems to be a little bit more versatile to me, since I can serve it up with chili or bbq, or simply slather it with butter and eat it for a snack.
This Sweet Olive Oil Cornbread walks a nice line between sweet and savory, just leaning a little into the sweet side of things. It has a fluffy, tender crumb with just a bit of texture from the cornmeal. It isn’t sweet enough to turn into a cake, but the sugar in the recipe highlights the natural sweetness of the corn and the fruitiness of the olive oil. As with most recipes that include olive oil, it is a good idea to use a flavorful olive oil that you enjoy on its own for the best results in the recipe.
I baked this cornbread in a 9-inch round cake pan and cut it into generous wedges to serve. You can bake the same bread in a 9×9-inch square pan with about the same baking time, if you prefer square cornbread pieces. Serve this alongside a spicy chili to cut the heat a little bit, or smear it with butter and drizzle it with honey to sweeten it up even more. I think that this cornbread is best when served slightly warm, but leftovers will be just as good in a day or two if the cornbread is kept well-wrapped.
It’s great to have friends that are good cooks. Not only do they appreciate your efforts in the kitchen when you cook for them, but they are a great source of new recipes. My friend Dave gave me his excellent turkey chili recipe, which is popular with his firefighting buddies (he’s a firefighter, too), as well as with anyone else who has it.
This chili is a favorite for several reasons, the most important being that it tastes fantastic. In addition to that, it is healthy, can be used to serve a crowd and is very easy to make. Instead of requiring a half-dozen individual spices, the recipe calls for the use of a grill seasoning blend or spice rub. If you’re like me, you’ll always have a versatile spice rub on hand for grilling and general seasoning. A rub will already have multiple spices in it, as well as salt and pepper, saving time but delivering lots of flavor.
You can do a lot to play around with the heat level in this chili (or any chili), too. The amount of chili powder can be adjusted up or down, as can the amount of hot sauce. There is something to be said for milder chilis, where you can really taste the individual flavors of the ingredients, but I like my chili on the spicy side and so I increased the heat by adding red pepper flakes to my batch. If you end up making the chili too spicy, you can cut the heat by adding some more tomato sauce to the mixture. The chili is very meaty and, if you prefer your chilis to be a little saucier, this might be a good option for you, too.
Serve this chili with some sour cream, grated cheese, avocado and bread or cornbread. If you’re looking for another side dish, grilled corn on the cob can be a great accompaniment, too.