Tuesday, December 6, 2011

cast iron skillet salsa fresca "tomato cobbler" cornbread with ground beef, sour cream and guacamole

When I found this recipe for tomato cobbler, I was intrigued. It definitely was way different than everything else I had been making with my summer tomatoes, and that alone was enough to recommend it to me. Basically, its a simple skillet corn bread with a tomato salsa baked right in. Pretty neat sounding, right?

I also liked that it was vaguely Mexican sounding, what with the cilantro, cumin, jalapenos and lime juice. I make some killer tacos, and I've dabbled in black bean soup and picadillo, but other than that I don't really mess around with too much Mexican. Obviously, this is more Tex-Mex than proper Mexican food, but honestly, I'm a New Yorker, so I'm not too concerned about authentic Mexican food. True story.

Authentic or not, this was a pretty great recipe: easy, unexpected and delicious. I was a little skeptical when the directions called for melting a stick of butter in the pan and then pouring in the rest of the batter and NOT STIRRING. It looked like an oily mess, but I shrugged it off, dotted the top with the tomato jalapeno mixture, put it in the oven and hoped for the best. What I got was not at all greasy, with a delightfully crisp top and sides. The tomatoes made it nice and moist, and the jalapenos added just a little heat. Very nice.

I served it with sour cream, ground beef seasoned with tomatoes, cumin, garlic and chili powder; and some fresh guacamole that I made with some avocado, tomato, limes and cilantro. I made all this for dinner with my book club, and I think it went over pretty well. It was a great easy thing to throw together after work, and it tasted wonderful, so they better have liked it.

Here's the recipe, in case you want to make some for you and your nerdy/bookish friends, who I hope are as awesome as mine. Or for any other occasion, as you can use canned tomatoes rather than wait for fresh ones to be back in season.

Cast Iron Skillet Salsa Fresca "Tomato Cobbler" Cornbread
adapted from Lisa Fain's The Homesick Texan Cookbook on Serious Eats

1 pound tomatoes, peeled and diced, or 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime juice
salt and black pepper, to taste
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Toss together the diced tomatoes, diced jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and lime juice. Season with salt and black pepper.

Melt a stick of butter in a large cast iron skillet, then remove from heat. Mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk and stir until a thick, smooth batter forms. Pour the batter over the melted butter in the skillet and resist the urge to stir. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Serve in wedges. Suggested accompaniment: your favorite ground beef taco meat, guacamole or sour cream.

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