2008-02-06 / LifeStyles

National Cornbread Festival looking for nation's best cornbread recipes

Your recipe could win thousands of dollars in prizes

Southwest-inspired Chicken Taco Cornbread Wedges with Ranchero Cilantro Drizzle came out on top in the 2007 National Cornbread Cook-Off. Southwest-inspired Chicken Taco Cornbread Wedges with Ranchero Cilantro Drizzle came out on top in the 2007 National Cornbread Cook-Off. SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - Attention all home cooks and cornbread connoisseurs! Grab your aprons and your cast iron skillets.

The National Cornbread Festival is in search of original main dish cornbread recipes to be entered into the 12th annual National Cornbread Cook-Off.

Ten finalists will compete during the National Cornbread Festival and create their original cornbread specialties under the Big Cook-Off Tent on April 26 in South Pittsburg. One lucky winner will be chosen as the reigning cornbread champion and receive $5,000 and a 30-inch stainless steel gas range (a $2,500 value).

The second prize winner will walk away with $500, the third prize winner with $300. The remaining seven finalists will each be awarded $100. All finalists will receive $500 travel reimbursement and gifts courtesy of Martha White® and Lodge Cast Iron®.

"We always receive so many creative and unique cornbread recipes," said Linda Carman, Martha White® baking expert. "Past winners have followed national trends - making chicken the most frequently used meat ingredient, but those recipes vary greatly in how that ingredient is used. We're eager to see what ingredients contestants will use in their main dish recipes this year."

Chicken and Dressing Skillet Bake -  an all-in-one variation of a favorite Southern classic -  was winner of the first National Cornbread Cook-Off back in 1997. Chicken and Dressing Skillet Bake - an all-in-one variation of a favorite Southern classic - was winner of the first National Cornbread Cook-Off back in 1997. The winner of the first National Cornbread Cook-Off in 1997 was Chicken and Dressing Skillet Bake - an all-in-one variation of a favorite Southern Classic. In 2004, the second place winner went Italian with Pesto Cornbread with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Streusel. And, in 2007, it was Southwest-inspired Chicken Taco Cornbread Wedges with Ranchero Cilantro Drizzle that came out on top.

To qualify for the contest, an entry must be an original Main Dish recipe and prepared with at least one cup of Martha White® Corn Meal or one package of Martha White® Cornbread Mix using Lodge Cast Iron® cookware. Entries must also include contestant's name, address, daytime phone number and date of birth.

To enter by e-mail, send your original recipe along with your complete contact information to cornbread@dvl.com. E-mail entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST on Feb. 29, 2008.

To enter by mail, send your original recipe and complete contact information on an 8 1/2 x 11- inch paper to: National Cornbread Cook-Off 2008, 209 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219. Mail-in entries must be postmarked by Feb. 29, 2008, and received by March 7, 2008.

Ten finalists will be chosen from all entries.

Sponsored by Martha White Foods Inc., Lodge Manufacturing Company and Brown Stove Works Inc., the competition is open to legal residents of the United States and the District of Columbia, 18 years or older, except food professionals, such as chefs, food writers, or food home economists who create recipes for pay. Void outside the 50 United States and D.C. and where prohibited. Chicken and Dressing Skillet Bake 2 Tbsps. butter 1 cup chopped onion 1 cup chopped celery 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 pkgs. (6 oz.) Martha White® Cotton Country™ Cornbread Mix or Martha White® Buttermilk Cornbread Mix 3 cups cubed cooked chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn 1 1/2 tbsps. poultry seasoning 1 3/4 cups milk 2 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In 10-inch cast iron skillet, cook onion and celery in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet; place in large bowl.

Pour oil in same cast iron skillet; place in oven to heat for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to vegetables in large bowl; blend well.

Pour cornbread batter into hot cast iron skillet. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 29 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges. (6 servings) Pesto Cornbread with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Streusel 1 pkg. (6.5 oz.) Martha White® Yellow Cornbread Mix 1 egg, beaten 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup pesto sauce 1 1/2 cups chopped grilled chicken 1 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 tbsps.pure olive oil 1 cup mozzarella cheese 2 tbsps. chopped basil

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. In large bowl, combine cornbread mix, egg, milk and pesto sauce. In separate large bowl, combine chicken, tomatoes and parmesan cheese.

Heat oil in 10-inch cast iron skillet in oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Pour cornbread batter into hot skillet. Immediately spoon chicken mixture evenly on top of cornbread batter

Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and basil and return to oven 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. (6 servings) Chicken Taco Cornbread Wedges with Ranchero Cilantro Drizzle Dressing: 1/2 cup ranch dressing 1/2 cup salsa verde 1 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves Filling 2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper 1 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno pepper 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 3 tbsps. finely chopped cilantro leaves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chilies Crust: 1 egg 1 (7oz.) package Martha White® Sweet Yellow Cornbread Mix 1/2 cup milk 3/4 cup crushed corn tortilla chips Toppings: 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 3 cups shredded romaine 1 cup chopped tomatoes

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ranch dressing, salsa and 1 cup cilantro leaves in a small food processor or blender. Process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate.

In 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken, 3 tablespoons cilantro, salt, cumin, pepper and tomatoes with green chilies; cook 5 minutes. Remove from skillet. Wipe out skillet with paper towel; grease.

In large bowl, beat egg. Add cornbread mix and milk; mix well. Place tortilla chips in greased skillet. Pour cornbread mixture over chips. Spoon chicken mixture over cornbread mixture; sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges. Top with romaine and tomatoes; drizzle with dressing. (6 servings)

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