It’s Kentucky Derby time! Besides giving me a reason to drink bourbon (do we really need a reason?), it’s a good time to post some food that reminds me of Kentucky. I’ve visited Kentucky several times and enjoyed their cuisine. When I found a recipe for cornbread salad several years ago it became one of my favorite dishes.
The cornbread salad has always been a very popular dish at parties and family gatherings as well.. I’ve given the recipe out so many times it will be a relief to be able to say “It’s on my blog.”
Once the cornbread is made, cooled and diced, there is a little chopping and throwing together to make the salad. It can all be made a day or two in advance, then mixed just before eating. I actually happened to have leftover cornbread my P.S. (Princely Spouse) made the other night. We had chili and he wanted cornbread on the side. With the leftovers I was already halfway to getting this salad made in time for derby dining!
I’ve always used diced bacon in the salad because it needs a strong, smoky meat. Ham could be used as well, but it will change the flavor profile quite a bit. Bacon is also preferable for the crispness that gives the salad a textural bump up. It takes the salad from “a salad” to “THE salad”. I dice it up finely before frying it in a nonstick skillet until it is browned and crispy.
I use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon bits to a large bowl, adding a bit of the bacon grease as well. I toss in the cubed cornbread and let it soak up the little bit of grease for even more flavor. That’s my naughty secret. Don’t tell anyone.
Chopped tomatoes, peppers and green onions are necessary. I throw them into the bowl as they’re chopped. You could add finely chopped broccoli or cauliflower, depending on how crunchy you want your vegetables. Diced cucumbers might also be a good addition.
As I side salad I keep it simple with just the tomatoes, peppers and green onions. My P.S. suggested sliced olives or Kalamata olives but there are enough flavors in this salad already. Kalamata olives might overpower the taste of cornbread, which should be the focus here.
I combine the mayo and pickle juice, then toss it with the cornbread and vegetables, mixing well.
It’s delicious the first day as a side dish with something grilled. It’s even amazing still the second day. I’d have expected the cornbread to be all soggy and mushy but it is still fairly fresh. Most of the time there are no leftovers though. This salad disappears fast!
Kentucky Cornbread Salad
5 cups cornbread; cubed (see recipe below)
3 cup tomato; diced, fresh
1/2 cup green onion; thinly sliced
1 cup sweet bell pepper; diced (I used an orange pepper)
12 ounce package bacon; diced and fried until crispy
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet pickle juice
parmesan cheese; shredded
Place cornbread cubes in a large salad bowl. Combine tomatoes, green onion, pepper, bacon and relish; add to cornbread.
Combine mayonnaise and pickle juice; mix well. Pour over vegetables and cornbread. Toss gently. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Chill until ready to serve.
Yield: 8-10 servings
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped green chilies (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter, stir in rest of ingredients until few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.