Cast Iron Cowboy Cornbread

Salsa and sour cream are great additions to the finished product of this recipe, which uses wild sausage as its main ingredient. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

This dish uses sausage from venison or wild hogs as the main ingredient, and it calls for cooking with a cast iron pan. Hopefully you’ve still got some venison in the freezer from this past hunting season, but if not, it’s always hog season in the Carolinas, and these animals offer some delicious lean pork that works great in this recipe. It is a little spicy, but doesn’t require a cast iron stomach . The cast iron in the title only refers to the pan used to cook it. March brings back Daylight Savings Time, so sportsmen taking part in the  extended conservation season for snow geese, hunting hogs, killing coyotes, or taking part in the great saltwater or freshwater fishing offered this month can make this dish for a late evening meal. No matter what you’re pursuing in the wild, it’s always great to end the day with a dish cooked from wild game. Cast Iron Cowboy Cornbread does this in style. It’s a good one and I believe you’ll like it.

This recipe tastes great, and prep time is pretty short. It can be made in a single pan if you pay attention and don’t scorch or burn anything before adding the cornbread mix.

The sausage (venison or feral pig) is a key part of this recipe. Lean domestic sausage may be substituted in a pinch. Avoid the spicier Rotel blends as the jalapenos will spice it up nicely without overpowering it.

In its simplest form, this is a spicy, stuffed cornbread. But when done right, it’s so much more. The meat, cheese and peppers combine to create a bomb of flavor that can be enjoyed straight from the pan or served with salsa, butter, sour cream and more.

This amount will fill my 9-inch by 3-inch deep cast iron skillet totally full. When expecting guests, I double the recipe to make two pans and have plenty. It tends to get eaten pretty quickly.

It’s rare, but occasionally some amount is left over. These leftovers are very good reheated. Just don’t reheat them in the microwave. The cornbread needs real heat to warm the meat and bread in the middle, and to crisp the edges of the cornbread. The difference in taste and texture between reheating in the oven or toaster oven versus zapping it in the microwave is major, and not in a good way. Do yourself a favor and don’t find out.

I believe anyone who likes sausage and cornbread will enjoy this. Your fishing and hunting buddies will like it to, so make plenty to share. Enjoy!

Before the cornbread mix is added, this recipe looks somewhat like chili. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

INGREDIENTS:

1 Pound venison or feral pork sausage

1 Can Rotel tomato mix

1 Can Ranch style beans

1 Large package (15 oz) of cornbread mix

1 Can cream style corn

3 Cups shredded cheddar cheese

11/4 Cup sweet onion

1 or 2 fresh jalapenos

PREPARATION:

  1. Drain the Rotel and beans.
  2. Chop the onion and slice the jalapeno(s).
  3. Lightly brown the sausage and sauté the onions and jalapeno with it. If you use feral pig sausage, cook it a minute or two before adding the onions and jalapeno.
  4. Add the Rotel and beans and simmer enough to warm and blend them well while stirring often.
  5. Remove the meat and veggie mixture from the pan. Use a spatula to be sure there are no scorched pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Use any drippings to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. If your sausage is very lean and there aren’t enough drippings to coat the pan, use a little butter or buttery flavored cooking spray to completely cover the pan. This will fill it to the top.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375.
  8. Mix the cornbread according to the directions on the package.
  9. Add a can of cream style corn and one cup of cheese to the cornbread and stir to mix well.
  10. Pour half of the cornbread mixture into the pan and spread it evenly.
  11. Pour the sausage mixture on top of the cornbread mix and spread it evenly.
  12. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top of the meat.
  13. Pour the remaining cornbread mix on top of the meat and cheese and spread evenly.
  14. Bake at 350 for approximately 20-30 minutes. When it’s ready, the cornbread should be just beginning to brown and a toothpick can be inserted and removed without sticking.
  15. Spread the remaining cup of cheese across the top and return it to the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.
  16. Allow this to season 3-5 minutes and serve while still hot.

Serve this with salsa, hot sauce, butter and anything else that sounds good to you.

This is really a pretty complete and filling meal. I often add a salad and rarely feel the need for dessert. If you like to add dessert to finish meals, try something light like pudding or custard.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1167 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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