Southwestern Cornbread Casserole

Casseroles make wonderful meals at any time, and often are good enough for company (depending on their likes, of course). “Mexican cornbread casserole” recipes abound on the internet, which attests to the affinity that the twenty-first century American palate has for spicy cornbread, meat, and cheese. The making of cornbread in Mexico predated the European invasion. But the combination of spices, meat, and cheese in casserole form was more likely concocted in the Southwestern United States in the nineteenth century with the introduction of beef and dairy cattle there during western expansion.

Regardless of its place of origin, it is fair to say that the classic cornbread casserole has been around a long time and a target of opportunity for the chile aficionado. Mine is very simple and flexible. You can use ground sausage, TVP with my sausage mix , or Cho-Ritz-O* instead of hamburger, and leftover vegetables, such as green beans or carrots, instead of corn. If you aren’t counting carbs, you can even use regular flour for the lower carb mix. You can cut down on the fat by reducing the canola oil to one tbsp.

  • ½ cup yellow corn meal
  • ½ cup lower-carb flour mix
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp <salt>
  • 1 tbsp New Mexico ground chile powder
  • ½ cup X, or 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 (4-oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels (frozen)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • ½ tbsp canola oil
  • 1½ lb hamburger
  • ½ lb 2% milkfat sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Combine and blend all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and the eggs, milk, oil, chiles, and corn together in another bowl. Combine the contents of the two bowls, mixing with a wooden spoon lightly until the dry ingredients are wet. Place the cornbread mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Meanwhile, cook the hamburger and onions in an oiled skillet until brown, separating the meat into small granular chunks.

Spoon the hamburger and onion mixture carefully over the cornbread mixture and top with the grated cheese. Cook in a 350° F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove form the oven, cut into serving-sized chunks, and serve with salsa on the side.

Makes 4 servings.