Following in the proud tradition of shepherds pie, chicken & dumplings, and various cobblers, where something delicious is layered over something else delicious, the appeal of this cornbread and chili far exceeds the sum of its parts.
Fluffy, slightly sweet, cornbread pairs perfectly with the rich and hearty flavor of the chili. And when cooked together, you can just scoop out a big heaping spoonful and get the best of both worlds!
Start by making your chili in the Dutch oven over the campfire. Saute the onions with a little olive oil before adding the beans, tomatoes, green chiles, tomato paste, and spices.
While that simmers away, you can turn your attention to making your cornbread batter. The from-scratch recipe uses cornmeal, flour, milk, an egg, baking powder, and honey, but if it’s late in the season and you want to cut some corners, nobody will hold it against you if you use a store-bought mix!
Move the Dutch oven away from the direct heat to stop the chili from bubbling. Then, add the cornbread batter on top of the chili and cover it with the lid. Shovel some embers from the fire on top. Embers from softwood tend to lose their heat faster than those from hardwood, so if your embers start to cool, replace them with fresh ones. After roughly 20 minutes, uncover, check, and when the cornbread has cooked through and is ready, enjoy!
For the Chili
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
- 1 (14.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
For the Cornbread Topper
- 1 cup cornmeal
- ½ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons honey
- In a 10” / 4 qt Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onion in oil until soft and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and saute for 1 minute. Add the beans, tomatoes, chiles, and tomato paste, stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
- In the meantime, prepare the cornbread batter. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the milk, egg, and honey and mix until a batter forms.
- Move Dutch oven over indirect heat to reduce bubbling. Pour the batter over the chili as evenly as possible, then cover the Dutch oven with a lid and shovel embers or coals onto the top. You’re going for a temperature of approx. 400-425F.
- Bake until the cornbread has cooked through and is no longer wet in the center, about 20 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite chili toppings & enjoy!