Polenta is a brilliantly versatile ingredient: simmer it in milk, stock or water for a warming side dish, add cheese and chill it into grillable cakes, or bake it into that perennial favourite, cornbread.
As its name suggests, cornbread should be both fluffy (no dense bricks here, please) and corn-flavoured. Using quality polenta is the key to avoiding a gritty texture, and ensures the bread emerges from the oven tasting like corn.
This cornbread, given a tangy kick from the inclusion of buttermilk and cooked to browned perfection in a cast iron frying pan, uses instant white polenta as its main ingredient, lending the finished bread a subtle but distinct corn flavour and a light, airy texture.
We love serving it with this umami-rich black garlic butter, made just outside Canberra, and/or a few generous spoonfuls of Drunken Sailor’s Jalapeño and Tequila Relish. Serve the butter-spread bread alongside barbecued meats, a rich chili con carne, or by itself warm from the oven.
Preheat your oven to 200C. Place the butter in a 8 or 9 inch cast iron frying pan and leave in the oven until butter has melted. Transfer butter to a small bowl or jug and return the pan to the hot oven.
Combine the polenta, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl, and gently stir through the buttermilk and lightly-beaten eggs.
Add the slightly-cooled melted butter and stir until just combined; the mix should be quite runny.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and immediately pour in the batter, then return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until top and edges have browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow the cornbread to cool slightly, then serve with plenty of black garlic butter.