Introduction: Ultimate Chili-Stuffed Cornbread

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There are two classic comfort foods for Winter in my house: hearty chili chock full of veggies, beans, and meat, and made-from-scratch cornbread. These dishes are a match made in heaven--but we always ran into a problem. Chili is easy to make in enormous quantity for a week's worth of meals, but that delicious cornbread never lasts past the first day (because it's too yummy to stick around). This leaves the fridge full of leftover chili with no comforting accompaniment, and my family is really picky about eating the same thing for multiple meals in one week. I wanted to find a way to use up the chili wasting away in the fridge while keeping the comfort-food-levels sky-high. So, long ago, I tried baking our favorite chili into our favorite cornbread recipe (plus lots of cheese), and WOW! It became an immediate family favorite.

This Ultimate Chili-Stuffed Cornbread is the perfect (and versatile) way to use up leftovers of your favorite chili without serving the exact same dish two nights in the same week. You can use vegetarian chili, buffalo chili, green chicken chili, beanless chili, anything you already love! I've also made this recipe with leftover taco meat, fajita fillings, and roasted vegetables before; it's a hit every time, no matter what you stuff in the cornbread. It also makes an incredible grab-and-go lunch for schoolkids and office workers!

Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients

For the cornbread:

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

8 teaspoons baking powder (5 if high-altitude)

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable oil is what most people would use for a cornbread recipe)

For the rest:

3-6 cups of your favorite chili

2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend because it's what I had, but you could use straight cheddar for maximum deliciousness)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Oil a large cast iron pan and get ready for making the ultimate comfort food!

Step 2: Mix It Up

First, we need to get the cornbread mix ready, Mix all of the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) together in one bowl. Whisk all the wet ingredients (milk, egg, and oil) together in a separate bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir it up just until it's all combined; don't over-mix!

Step 3: Build Your Tower of Comfort Foods

Spread about half of your cornbread mixture into the bottom of your greased pan. Add all of your leftover chili, then generously sprinkle the shredded cheese over the chili. Top with the remaining cornbread mixture, spreading it almost to the edges of the pan. I like to not cover the top completely so that delicious bits of chili peek out from the edge, hinting at the gloriousness hiding below the surface.

Step 4: Bake It, Plate It, Eat It

Stick your glorious pan of comforty goodness in the oven (which you have preheated to 425 F). Bake for 20 minutes, then check to see if the cornbread is done by sticking a toothpick down the center. If it comes out clean, you're ready to eat! If it comes out with cornbread goo, set the timer for another five minutes and check again. Depending on the moisture of your chili, your cooking time will change; I had a rather moist chili for this batch and baked it for 40 minutes total.

Slice it up and serve! I like to drizzle my chili-cornbread-masterpiece with local honey and sriracha, and it goes great with a hearty salad. Enjoy!

Comfort Food Challenge

Runner Up in the
Comfort Food Challenge