One of the worst kept secrets about covered grills is that they can be used in a similar fashion to your kitchen oven. The main difference is a touch of extra flavor added to your chosen food from charcoal, wood chips, and pellets. Newer high-end gas grills may come with a wood chip drawer built-in. If not, you can always use chip and pellet holders. So why not bring some good ole fashioned baked recipes out to your grill? You can start with Cornbread! The one pictured above is courtesy of my lovely bride, Allyson Whitaker!
Shout out to Native Americans!
According to people that know a whole bunch about culinary history, Native Americans can be credited for coming up with the idea for cornbread. When explorers and settlers started visiting North American the notice that Native Americans, such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek had come up with several pretty tasty dishes centered around corn which the Europeans had never seen. Well, it didn’t take long for someone to figure out that you could add a few more ingredients and have the equivalent of modern-day cornbread.
Jump forward several decades and the dish had become a staple in many kitchens. Some credit the popularity rise in cornbread as being a result of cornmeal being cheaper than flour and easier to find during the US Civil War. Soon cornbread was popular around the country with slight differences between regions. Southern cornbread is often made with little or no flour and often without too much added sugar. Northern style cornbread is lighter and sweeter with a muffin-like texture.
Southwestern cornbread often includes additional spices and possibly chopped jalapenos. At least that’s the way it used to be. Now chefs and creative cooks are making all types of cornbreads including BBQ Cornbread by Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker which includes over 1/2 pound of pulled pork along with cheese, peppers, sauce and more the served over pinto beans with sliced onions! Enough about history -let’s get back to grilled cornbread.
Grilled Cornbread made Easy!
Here’s the simplest way to make a batch of grilled cornbread. Take your favorite recipe, from scratch, from a cornmeal box, of just some of the boxed cornbread mix and start there. Prepared the recipe as directed, spoon it into a cast-iron skillet that has been prepped with cooking oil, toss the skillet on the grill, close the lid, and get ready for something tasty!
A few Trial and Error Notes:
- Make sure the cast-iron skillet is well oiled.
- Warm the cast-iron skillet.
- Don’t overdo it when it comes to smoked flavor. A couple of wood chips or pellets go a long way.
- Make sure the temperature of the cooking chamber can maintain the temps needed for your recipe. Some recipes call for temps as high as 400 degrees.
- Don’t place the cast-iron skillet directly over the heat source. The bottom will fry and burn faster than the inside can cook. Use offset/zone grilling methods.
- Use a water pan to keep the cooking chamber moist.
- Move the skillet around as needed to ensure even cooking.
- Grilling times will probably be longer than baking times in an oven.
- The cornbread pictured at the beginning of the article was moved to a top rack when almost done where heat was coming back from the top of the closed lid. Helped with the browning process.
- Don’t be scared to move the cast-iron skillet to the kitchen oven to brown the top. Especially if the corn-bread is drying out or starting to burn on the bottom. A couple of minute on broil with some butter will do the trick!
Give grilled cornbread a try with your favorite recipe and don’t be afraid to toss in fun stuff like real bacon bits, cheese, and chopped onions or peppers! Make the dish your own even if you start with a prepared mixture.
And, just in case you don’t feel like trying grilled cornbread right now, here’s my recipe… Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker’s Nearly Famous Barbecue Cornbread. This is one of the award-winning recipes which I used during the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. And… you still could probably make a version of this using a covered grill! Hope you enjoy it!
Barbecue Cornbread by Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker
The trick to making my almost famous Barbecue Cornbread is the Que! Get your hands on some hickory-smoked pulled pork from a Boston Butt to get started! I’ve made with beef and feel that the pork version has more flavor! You can swap out the flour and cornmeal with self-rising just be sure to eliminate the added baking powder.
- 1/2 pound leftover BBQ pork or beef
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 (15 ounce) can cream-style corn
- 1/2 (4 ounces) can of chopped green chile peppers, drained
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (150 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9”x13” glass baking dish.
- Break or shred pulled pork into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk, and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in cream corn, chiles, Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese and BBQ.
- In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to corn mixture; stir until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan, comes out clean. Or best yet until the center is firm to the touch.
Step two ingredients:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2-3 tablespoons your favorite BBQ sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce
- Directions: Combine all and melt in the microwave. Brush over cornbread and place back in the oven for a few minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot! Perfect served over pinto beans with some sweet onion slices and a drizzle of barbecue sauce!
Author Bio: Kent Whitaker, also known as “The Deck Chef,” is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader, NASCAR and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at www.thedeckchef.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.