For a long time, I scorned Jiffy corn muffin mix; it ranked with ramen noodles as a prime example of why-do-people-buy-such-cheap-crap processed food. First off, it’s too dadgum sweet. I like my cornbread salty. Secondly, it has too much flour. I like my cornbread coarse and corny, not light and cakey. Both unfortunate characteristics convinced me that it was a Northern cornbread impostor marketed to unsuspecting, shortcut-seeking Southerners. After all, it is milled & packaged in Chelsea, Michigan. Righteous Southern cornbread mixes (like Pioneer, a product of Guenther Mills in San Antonio, TX) don’t contain sugar.
Then I happened to read the label one day and discovered that it contains lard. Yes, L-A-R-D. My stars! Suddenly, I could appreciate Jiffy as an old-fashioned product, uncorrupted by nutritional trends, unimproved by “modern” vegetable oils, unchanged in the face of progress. I’m still not completely converted, but I do keep a box or two on hand, mainly because it makes an excellent starting point for all sorts of cornbread improv. [N.B. I am not turning into Sandra Lee just because I admit to using Jiffy corn muffin mix.]
With a little inspiration, jacked-up Jiffy becomes worthy of barbecued chicken or grilled flank steak. It happily accepts amendments as diverse as chopped Chinese chives, goat cheese, hot pepper jelly, smoked paprika, chopped green chiles, fresh corn kernels, homemade jam, chopped pecans, Steen’s cane syrup, peeled crawfish tails, chopped spinach, grated carrots, crumbled bacon, and sour cream (no, not all at the same time, silly). Here’s a southwestern version, concocted to accompany a chunky pork chili. I baked the corn bread as muffins, which are easier to freeze and reheat as singles.
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 T bacon grease, melted & cooled slightly
- 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
- 1/4 cup (or more to taste) chopped fresh chives (flat garlic chives work well)
- 1 T finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton), with a few sprinkles more
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper cups; spray cups lightly with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, beat egg. Stir in sour cream and bacon grease, then fold in corn muffin mix, chives, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix until blended (some small lumps will remain). Fill muffin cups halfway. Sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika over each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. (Baked muffins can be frozen, paper liners removed, in a zip-top bag; reheat frozen muffins in a 200-degree toaster oven).