My husband loves cornbread. I love the idea of cornbread. But usually it’s a false promise—rarely does it deliver the earthy, corny flavor I crave. So the last time I was whipping up a batch of cornbread to go with some chili, I got to thinking…Certain chili recipes rely on masa harina for thickening…Masa has big flavor, and masa and chiles are the perfect pairing…Why not make a side of cornbread using masa harina instead of cornmeal?
Turns out it works beautifully well. The result is a thoroughly satisfying cornbread, and I may never go back to cornmeal cornbread again.
Cheesy Masa Cornbread
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the baking dish
6 ounces masa harina
4 ounces all-purpose flour
½ ounce sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces milk, at room temperature
6 ounces buttermilk, at room temperature
4 ounces cheddar, finely diced
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Whisk together the masa harina, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, buttermilk, and butter in a medium bowl. Add the egg mixture to the masa harina mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the cheddar. Transfer to the baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the cornbread start to shrink away from the baking dish and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, cut into portions, and serve.
Serves 6 to 8. Masa harina for tamales, which has a coarse texture, is best here. This cornbread happily straddles the lines between Southern, Southwestern, and Mexican food, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to a big bowl of Real Texas Chili.