Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by a Facebook conversation we had with a friend of ours.  She was looking for a cornbread recipe, I posted Mike’s recipe, Victor asked me what we were having for dinner (it wasn’t cornbread) and said he would love corn sticks.

How could I refuse?!?  He’s leaving before the crack of dawn for Dallas tomorrow.  Besides, it really did sound better than what I was planning – a ground lamb in puff pastry…

And corn sticks require chili because I wasn’t doing fried chicken and greens and all that.

Chili.  Yum.  And perfect for the hot dogs and chili burgers I’ll be consuming this week.


So out came the corn stick pan. Rumor has it it came out of a school down South Carolina way.  It’s cast iron.  Probably made a million corn sticks in its time.  It could probably stand to be re-seasoned one of these days.  It sticks.   But it still makes a damned fine corn stick.   And the beauty of this corn bread is it’s flour-free.  Yes, you gluten-intolerant people out there.  You can eat it!

Mike’s Corn Bread


Preheat oven to 450°.

  • Two cups self-rising white or yellow cornmeal, or add 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt to plain cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • One egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted fat  (I used bacon fat)
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk (or plain milk with 2 tsp vinegar to sour it)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil to coat pan

Take the 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and put it in the frying pan.  Turn the pan to coat the bottom and sides well.  Too much is better than not enough.  You should be able to see a shallow pool of oil in the bottom of the pan.  Put pan in oven to heat.

Put dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients all at once and stir to make the batter.

When the oil is HOT! (smoking slightly), pour the batter into the pan and enjoy the sizzle.  Return it to the oven for 20 minutes.  It is done when a knife inserted into the top comes out clean.

Turn out of pan upside-down onto a plate.  Stand and be amazed at the reddish brown crackled crust approximately 1/8” thick covering it.

Just perfect.

I baked the sticks for about 15 minutes.

But before all that, I made the chili.

Pork Chili

  • 1 1/2 lbs cubed pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 qt beef broth
  • 1 jar Sofrito sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream

Brown pork and onions in a splash of oil.  Add spices and cook until very fragrant.  Add broth, scrapte up bits in pan, and then add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until pork is tender.

Top with cheddar cheese and sour cream.

For an unplanned throw-together dinner, this rocked.

The corn sticks were perfectly crunchy on the outside and tender in the center.  They tasted faintly of bacon which complimented the chili perfectly.

The chili was juuuuust smoky-and-spicy enough.  Not too thick, not too thin, and the corn sticks dipped into it perfectly.

And I have enough left over for a couple of good meals this week!

Life is good.