Cornbread Grilled Cheese with Poblano and Avocado

Dear readers, I’m not going to lie to you. This sandwich was a bit messy to eat. But it’s super delicious, and possibly my favorite grilled cheese experiment yet. The sweetness of (Yankee) cornbread plays off the spicy cheddar cheese and smoky poblano pepper. A squeeze of lime adds a much-needed splash of acid, and the avocado doubles the creaminess of a regular grilled cheese. If the time were right, you could throw a tomato in there, and I’m sure that would be tasty too.

You could certainly make this grilled cheese on regular bread. It would hold together better, and you’d get to pay more attention to the tasty filling. But it’s kind of fun to experiment, right? And cornbread is delicious. It just crumbles a little, which is why I recommend a no-flip method. After cooking the sandwich on low in an ovensafe pan, slide it into the broiler to melt the cheese and crisp up the top. Flipping this beast might be a disaster.

Another option would be to make this as an open-faced sandwich, in case you don’t really want to eat gobs of cornbread. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m including my mother’s recipe for cornbread here. It has a much nicer texture than store-bought, and really is a snap to whip together. Stir it up, pop in the oven, and have a beer while it cooks. By the time you’ve prepped the sandwich ingredients, it’s ready to go. Leftovers are delicious with Lab Party Six-Way Chili, a recipe you should totally try. Or top with fresh fruit and ice cream or whipped cream for dessert.

Cornbread Grilled Cheese with Poblano and Avocado
I encourage you to find pepper-cheddar as opposed to pepper-jack, the more robust cheese flavor is great here.
for one large sandwich

One square cornbread, about 4″ x 6″
1 poblano pepper
1/3 cup grated spicy cheddar (I recommend Yancey’s Fancy Jalapeno Cheddar)
1/3 of an avocado, sliced thin
wedge of lime

Let cornbread cool ten minutes if you’ve just baked it before removing your sandwich-sized piece. Carefully split bread in half lengthwise and set aside. Hold poblano pepper over the open flame of your gas stovetop with metal tongs, turning until blistered on all sides. Let cool. (If you don’t have a gas cooktop, you could broil the pepper for a few minutes, turning once, or just leave the pepper raw.) Slice into thin strips. You will only need about 1/3 of a pepper per sandwich. Have grated cheese ready. Squeeze lime over avocado and sliced peppers. Warm an ovensafe heavy skillet. Add bottom layer of cornbread, then sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange pepper and avocado slices on top, then top with more cheese and the top layer of the cornbread. Cover and cook on low six minutes while you preheat broiler. Slide pan under broiler and cook about two minutes until cheese is melted. Avoid burning top layer of bread.

Serve with additional lime wedges and good beer.

Quicker-than-a-mix Yankee Cornbread

butter for greasing pan
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup flour
1 T baking powder
heaping 1/4 cup sugar
3 T canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream + milk to make 1 cup total
1 egg, beaten lightly

Preheat oven to 425°. Butter a 8″ square pan. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure baking powder is evenly distributed. In a large measuring cup, add yogurt or sour cream and milk to make 1 cup total. Add egg and oil, mix wet ingredients together. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just moistened, do not overmix. Pour into prepared pan, even the top slightly, and bake for about 20 minutes. (You can also double this recipe and bake in a 13″ x 9″ pan.)

In cheese, cheese sandwich, grilled cheese

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