Here’s a delicious repost from last fall for you busy folks. I pulled some of these from the freezer the other night and was so glad they were in there because I didn’t have a plan for dinner! It was a good reminder to share again. This recipe makes a big batch so plenty for several dinners and is perfect for the big game coming up on Sunday.
I have some wonderful memories from the red carpet shows I’ve hosted for Great American Country for both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. Elegant gowns, pinch-myself-moments followed by the star-studded award shows themselves. And as much as I’ve enjoyed sitting in those grand arenas watching Blake and Luke do their thing on the stage or hearing the stars sing their hits echoed by the voices of thousands singing along, there’s nothing like watching it from your own living room (and if you could have seen some of the shoes I’ve worn on those shows, you would certainly understand.) Give me my couch, my slippers, my favorite country stars on the flat screen, and my kitchen about 10 feet away, and you won’t find a more content country music fan than me 🙂
At this year’s upcoming CMA awards on November 4th, I’ll be front and center on my own sofa. If you’re doing the same and having a few friends over to watch your favorite country stars stylin’, smilin’, and high profilin’, I’d love to share a food idea to serve. Because while it is all about what’s happening on the tube—who’s winning what and who’s wearing who—what is on your guests’ plates is very important. The main ingredient of a good party after all is good food!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “country as corn” to describe something that’s…well, very country! That’s not a bad thing either. For instance, it makes me think affectionately of Roy Clark, Buck Owens, and the old Hee Haw shows. With slightly “corny” jokes, great music, and down home comedy bits, Hee Haw was a staple in many American households. The Andy Griffith Show, Minnie Pearl, and in my opinion the current king of country humor, Mike Snider are other examples of timeless entertainment that is self effacing, good hearted, and never relies on not-so-family-friendly language to make a punch line effective. If you ever get a chance to see Mike Snider live, don’t walk, but run to get a ticket. I guarantee a night of laughs that will leave you walking away feeling good in your soul. Plus, he’s a heck of a banjo player too!
So thinking of things that were country as corn, I of course thought of cornbread. Charlie then thought of tamales, another favorite at our house. The tamale is not quite the ideal “finger food”, but what if country cornbread and Mexican Tamales got married? They would have little baby Tamale Cornbread Sticks! Now that statement right there was exactly “country as corn”. My corny self aside, these are really good and make for an excellent, easy to grab-and-go party snack with slightly spicy flavor for a red hot awards show!
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can Red Gold Diced Tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder (add more for a spicier taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more for a spicier taste)
- 4 cups self-rising cornmeal mix (I used a buttermilk and white cornmeal version)
- 2 cups milk or buttermilk
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 2 fresh jalapeños, finely chopped (add more for a spicier taste)
- 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (bulk of stems removed)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (may add more to taste)
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and add ground beef and chopped onions. Crumble beef and stir beef and onions until beef is browned.
- Pour in tomatoes and add all spices. Stir well and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
- Add the meat mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is not chunky and texture is even (about 8-10 seconds) to resemble a tamale texture. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cast iron cornbread stick pan generously with nonstick spray and in the final couple of minutes of oven reaching temperature, place pan in the oven to preheat as well.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal mix, milk or buttermilk, eggs, oil, half-and-half, and jalapeños and mix well.
- Remove pan from oven and place about 1½ teaspoons of cornmeal batter in each stick shape, using the spoon to evenly distribute. Place about 3 teaspoons of the tamale meat on top of the batter in each stick and evenly distribute with a spoon or with your fingers. Pour batter on top of the meat in each stick to cover (without overfilling) and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool in the pan for a couple of minutes and remove each stick, using a knife to break away any bread outlines that may have bake together. Repeat process until all meat and batter are used.
- Add sour cream to food processor bowl. Toss in cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pulse to blend for about 8-10 seconds or until cilantro is finely chopped.
- This is the type of Southern cornbread I grew up on. It’s not sweet cornbread that you sometimes find in restaurants or in grocery stores in a premade mix. If you like your cornbread on the sweet side, simply add 3-4 tablespoons of sugar to the batter. Serve the cornbread sticks with Cilantro Sour Cream (recipe above), salsa, or Mexican queso cheese. May freeze sticks for use later. They make great leftovers-Charlie likes them cold, right out of the fridge! Makes 32-35 depending on size of your cornbread pan.