Southwestern Cornbread Muffins

I am happily surrendering to all things Fall. In the mornings I’m sprinkling cinnamon over my stout mug of coffee, willing the day to start with a little Autumn whimsy. Kevin is directing me away from the delightful displays of pumpkins that greet us at the grocery store so I don’t have time to convince myself our home should resemble the October Martha Stewart Living magazine. My wardrobe has been all neutral tones with hues of the red, orange, and brown that you’d find on a turning tree. I’ve even found (or have become obsessed with) a book series to see me through the impending hibernation months (curse you, Outlander!).

Come sweep me off my feet, Fall season. I’m ready. Ready for pumpkin desserts doused in cinnamon, crisp ciders, cleverly named pumpkin beers, and piping hot, hearty stews and soups.

Enter these cornbread muffins.

These are a precursor to the savory dishes of my favorite season. They’re primed to sop up warm broth at the bottom of a soup bowl. Ready to sacrifice itself by crumbling atop a spicy, hearty chili. Willing to lay down its life to be cut in half and smothered in warm butter, eaten all on its own.

They’re cornbread with personality. To tell you the truth, much of the cornbread of my experience acts as Southern sustenance. Not overflowing with flavor, sometimes dry, sometimes gritty. It never stars in its own show – it always needs a supporting cast of menu items to fulfill its purpose.

Not these.

These have been given a southwestern makeover of whole corn kernels, roasted green chile peppers, and heapings of cheddar cheese. Oh I will use them for their traditional soup/stew purposes, but I will also stand over the kitchen counter and eat it on its own in my weaker moments, smothering it with butter before each bite.

Yes. Yes that’s what I did the day I made them. I didn’t even share with the begging canines at my feet, who I consider to be my own flesh and blood (and fur).

All of the ingredients are basic and may already be stocked in your kitchen, except perhaps the green chiles. For those, I used the same method as in my recipe for Green Chile Mac and Cheese, laying whole peppers on a cookie sheet on the top rack of a broiling oven, just beneath the flame, turning until black and blistered. I was able to freeze some of the multitude of peppers roasted, and used them easily in this recipe. Of course, you can use canned ones as well.

The spice of the peppers adds a nice heat to what could be deemed bland territory. The crunch of the corn kernels adds a hearty texture and reminds you why the dish is named after it. The cheese is just that – cheese. And it’s always a good idea.

This recipe made about 9 jumbo muffins, of which we ate 2. The leftovers were individually wrapped in plastic and tucked away in the freezer until a slow simmering soup graces our kitchen. Which will be very, very soon.

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Kate Nelson

I’m a wife and mother to two daughters. I was a very, very geeky kid and spent my many years of youth reading science fiction and playing Dungeons & Dragons. I live in Austin with my family and love Star Wars. In here you find a whole lot of food recipes.

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