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Side dishes have always been a bane of mine. I tend to focus on the complicated entrees and meat dishes and only consider the side dishes in passing with little thought for how they will compliment or enhance the entree I've prepared. It's not without surprise then, that when I happen upon a versatile multi-role side dish, that I latch on to it and add it firmly to my repertoire. I'm even more impressed when a candidate side dish is both simple to construct and consists of easy to obtain ingredients.

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Strip thyme and rosemary from their stalks and chop with basil. If you cover the thyme and rosemary with the basil leaves, it will prevent the other herbs from jumping around on your cutting board.
  • In a medium warm cast iron skillet, melt butter and sweat onions and herbs until the onions become translucent. If you don't a properly seasoned cast iron skillet, you can use any oven safe skillet. Do not use a skillet with plastic bits or a non-stick skillet unless it's expressly labeled as oven safe.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine creamed corn, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, cheese, salt and pepper.
  • Add cubed bread to corn mixture and fold until combined.
  • Turn off the heat on the skillet and pour the corn mixture in, covering the onions and herbs, without stirring the mixture. Don't be surprised when the batter makes a pleasing sizzle as it's added to the hot skillet.
  • Move the skillet immediately to the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until set.
  • Let cool for several minutes and then run a dull knife around the edge of the skillet before transferring to a plate. Place the serving plate on top of the skillet and turn both over so that skillet rests on plate inverted.
  • If your skillet was well seasoned, the cornbread will pop right out. If your skillet was not seasoned properly, or not at all, you've got problems, get a sandblaster.
  • Some excessive browning is to be expected, even desired. Cut into wedges and serve.
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Do not attempt to double recipe unless you have two skillets, and then adjust cooking time by about 1/3. It really depends on your oven.

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