It may be Spring but it’s still a good night for a warm, hearty meal.
Awhile back I spotted this recipe for Jalapeño Pale Ale Cornbread, and it became my culinary obsession. I must make this amazing bread bursting with cornmeal and beer. But when and where? Such a dish needed a proper crown, and not just any old chili or stew. No, this cornbread needed something even better. It needed Mango BBQ Beans (originally from Appetite for Reduction).
This meal was time-consuming to make, but worth it in the end. The cornbread is nice and moist, and the BBQ beans are sweet and spicy – perfect for a somewhat cool Spring evening, but also festive enough for a hot summer day. It’s also non-vegetarian approved, as my boyfriend gave it two thumbs up!
I recommend starting with the cornbread first, since you need to let a polenta mixture rest for 20 minutes before baking and cooling it for about 45 minutes more. Polenta, you say? Here’s how to get it started! First, I chopped up one small-medium jalapeño pepper, which gave me the TB called for in the recipe. I then sauteed the pepper pieces in 3 TB of Earth Balance margarine for about three minutes, until the pieces were softened. Once softened, I added 3/4 cup of cornmeal and 3/4 cup of rice milk (though any non-dairy milk will do), stirring until the milk started bubbling. You then remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture rest for 20 minutes – resulting the polenta mixture below!
Once the polenta is ready, you can do one of two things – you can prepare a bread pan like the recipe calls for, or you can do what I did, and prepare a cast-iron skillet. Skillet cornbread is amazing and I highly recommend making your cornbread like this! To get the pan ready, preheat the oven to 375 F, place the skillet on a baking sheet, then place in the oven to get the skillet hot. Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl, then set aside. The next step in the recipe calls for eggs and honey. I used agave in place of honey, and flax eggs (1 TB ground flax + 3 TB water for each egg) in place of regular eggs. I then combined the egg/agave mixture, the polenta, and the dry ingredients in one large bowl.
Now, the recipe calls for a pale ale, which I did not have. So, I used Yuengling amber lager instead. For my money the cornbread still tasted great. Once I mixed in the beer, I reduced the oven temperature to 350 F, took out the skillet, and greased the pan with some Earth Balance. Because the pan is hot, the EB will melt quickly; so use a brush to get the butter up on the sides of the pan. Pour the batter into the pan, then top with 2 TB of melted butter if you wish. You then bake the cornbread for 25-30 minutes, then let the bread cool in the skillet for 10 minutes before serving. It will then be ready to serve with the Mango BBQ Beans!
Now, the Mango BBQ Beans take awhile to prepare, but the steps are considerably easier than the cornbread. To start the beans, saute some onion and garlic for five minutes in the bottom of a large pot, until the onions are translucent. While the onions and garlic cook, prepare the rest of the ingredients, as all except for the liquid smoke will be going right into the pot. Peel and cube one medium mango, and drain and rinse two cans of kidney beans. Place these in a large bowl, then add vegetable broth, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, tomato sauce, and allspice, mixing them a bit. Now, I normally follow a recipe exactly the first time I make it, but I couldn’t resist adding a bit of Southern charm to this BBQ. I replaced 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce with ketchup, which also eliminated the need for agave nectar with its sweetness. I also added a generous shot (2-3 TB) of Jack Daniels, which also added to the sweetness and made the beans very tasty. Give it a try! I then added all of these ingredients to the pot and simmered them for 45 minutes.
Once the beans were done simmering, I added a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Then, I placed some of the cornbread in a bowl, and topped it with a heaping ladle-full of beans. Presto! An amazing dinner packed with flavor and guaranteed to fill you up. This also makes plenty of leftovers, so stock up on tupperware!