Polenta Cornbread: A Happy Mistake

Tonight, I was planning to make chili for dinner. Usually we serve chili over rice (natch) but I had a quart of buttermilk in the fridge and thought… can I use that to make some cornbread?

I went over to Foodgawker (which I am in LOVE with these days!) and did a search for “buttermilk cornbread.” There were so many options, and many of them looked amazing, BUT I did not have the time or the ingredients to add special nifty stuff like fresh corn or bacon or chiles or whatnot. I just wanted yummy cornbread that included buttermilk.

Finally I settled on this recipe at The Hungry Mouse. It looked awesome! I love step-by-step photo recipes.

I looked in my pantry. Could not find cornmeal anywhere. I swore we’d had a big container of it. But my pantry is an overstuffed, disorganized MESS and I could not find it. I did, however, find a bag of polenta. Ahhh!

Isn’t polenta just … Italian cornmeal? I went to Twitter and asked, “Can I use polenta instead of cornmeal to make cornbread?” and I got a flurry of responses. Such as, “They’re really the same!” to “Grind it in a coffee grinder!” (what???) and “NO.” Yow! But at this point I was committed. I had all my ingredients out, including the buttermilk that started it all.

Then I could not find my metal 8 x 8 pan, only a glass one. Again I turned to Twitter. HELP! And got another round of enthusiastic yet conflicting advice. “Metal is better!” “Glass is more even!” “Try a cast iron skillet!” This all made me laugh in a confused way. Then I found the metal pan. Whew! But people were still touting the benefits of glass. Hmm! What to do?

I combined all the ingredients just as the recipe directed, EXCEPT for the polenta. The recipe indicated that it would be very stiff and hard to spread into the pan, but my batter was sort of wet and quite pourable. Oops? I fretted.

I had some grated cheddar cheese sitting in a Tupperware in the fridge, so I sprinkled some on top and hoped for the best.

I put it in the oven and then had to run off to pick up offspring from practice. I kept texting my husband while I waited for it. “Did you take out the cornbread?” “How is it?” “HOW IS IT?”

As it turned out, it was excellent. It definitely had a grainier, more crunchy consistency than “regular” cornbread, but that was what I really liked about it. It was super moist! and a little crumbly, but gooooooooooood. I think I’ll definitely make it again, and WITH the polenta. Yum! A happy mistake!

And it tasted wonderful with the chili. :-)

Here’s the recipe. (thanks to The Hungry Mouse!)

Buttermilk Cornbread

  • 1 cup stone ground cornmeal (OR polenta!!)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • spray oil or butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with butter or spray. Line the bottom with parchment.

Whisk together dry ingredients: cornmeal (or polenta!), flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.

Add the wet ingredients: olive oil, buttermilk, eggs. Whisk it together until it all comes together. (NOTE: Mine was really wet)

Either scrape (if it’s dry?) or pour (if it’s wet like mine) into pan. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  It’s done if it springs back when you press on it, or when a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.

 

28 responses to “Polenta Cornbread: A Happy Mistake

  1. So glad it turned out !

  2. I’m trying it now. All I had was polenta, so I googled and found your recipe. I’ve added a twist: we’re gluten free, so instead of flour I used Bob’s Redmill GF Flour mix, and instead of buttermilk (wish I had some) I tried making some w/1 Tablespoon vinegar in 2/3 C milk – let set for 5 mins, then add.
    We’ll see, it’s in the oven now. And boy, was it wet – liquidy, in fact…I will definitely add some cheese on top next time, too; that looks awesome.

    • awesome we’re newly gluten free so was thinking about the flour will look and see if I have any GF baking flour I know I have lots of red mill stuff….I know I have muffin/pancake mix may try that. LOL

  3. Add some chia seeds for extra crunch and nutrition!

  4. I made it using 1C Bobs Red Mill Brown Rice Flour and instead of buttermilk I used Almond Milk. (we are GF/CF) I blended the wet ingredients with a food processor to make the eggs fluffy- It came out absolutely delicious! And I used a cast iron pan instead. 20min was exactly right. The only thing I will do different next time is add a tsp of Xanthan Gum to avoid major crumbling….

  5. I’m an American living in Switzerland and cornbread is one of the many things I miss. Unfortunately, we haven’t not found cornbread mixes or cornmeal here. We tried your recipe with polenta- it was fantastic! Thanks for filling one of our voids- I can now check cornbread off our “missing in action” list!

  6. Im making it now! It looks so pretty! I ground up my polenta so that it wasn’t so runny and I had to use canola oil. Hopefully it’ll be great!

  7. Sooo good. I love it. Thanks!!

  8. I found myself in the same conundrum as you – wanting to make cornbread with polenta. Lucky for me, your blog post came up as I googled. It is baking now! Thanks again for the help!

  9. PS: Pinning to Pinterest!

  10. Fantastic, thanks!!!!

  11. I just looked in my sad little cabinet, knowing there wasn’t anything to make cornbread with. And then I saw a little yellow-fulled bad of bulk polenta — yes!!!

    Thanks!

  12. Cornbread and Chili I also love. Hughs Cornbread.
    Heston Inspired Chili, I have not got time to do a full Heston chili, but some of his tips are always a great idea.
    I use Yogurt and milk in Soda bread sometimes, as butermilk is a cycle ride away.

  13. Definitely a lifesaver for those of us abroad without access to American stuff like cornbread! I had some polenta lurking and wondered if it were possible to use it like cornmeal…ahh, bless you internets! In the oven and smelling lovely. Thanks a bunch!

  14. Lifesaver! only had polenta and wasmaking white bean turkey chili…your recipe was just what I needed…substituted the sugar with a non-caloric sweetner!

  15. mines in the oven now, lookin good!

  16. Why don’t you include the recipe in an easily printable format?

  17. I used this recipe but substituted sour cream for the buttermilk. AWESOME!

  18. Tried it…worked it…loved it! Thanks for sharing

  19. South African maize meal works well in this recipe. Am going to try it with wholemeal flour. Excellent post!

  20. Thanks. I had the same problem. I had adifferent recipe, so combined mine w/t yours.

  21. I’m an American living in the Czech Republic and have chili craving also. You cannot have chili without corn bread those two go hand in hand its like cereal and milk or cookies and milk. I found a polenta cornbread recipes from another poster butI like that you added the cheese I think I will do that next time. But you are right polenta cornbread rocks

  22. Just what I was looking for….cornbread made with polenta! Wonderful, I enjoy mine with a little honey. Thanks for sharing!
    Marilyn

  23. Made beans & ham hocks, but didn’t have cornmeal.
    Found your post & it’s a winner.
    I have finally found the only Cornbread (polenta) recipe I will use.
    No more searching for that “special” recipe. I have found it.
    Thank you!

  24. Pingback: Favorite Vineyard Recipes | Gantz Family Vineyards

  25. This is exactly what I needed! Same scenario. No cornmeal, only polenta and lots of buttermilk! Thanks so much!!!

  26. Well, thanks for this! I will be making it tomorrow for my 4th party! I love me some Polenta, and I think this will be the perfect addition to my big bad pot of chili.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s