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Tonight’s Dinner: Chili cornbread casserole

Are there two flavors that go together better than chili and cornbread? No, sir! But have you ever baked them together? In a casserole dish? Welcome to heaven.

It’s been cold and rainy in California for at least a week now. And, when it’s miserable outside, there’s one thing my family craves—chili. It’s the ultimate comfort food; rich, thick, meaty and a little spicy. Add a little cheddar cheese and you’re good to go. But a few years ago I was served some chili with cornbread. I couldn’t believe I’d never put these two delectable dishes together. Dipping my cornbread into that rich, spicy chili was pure unadulterated heaven. I savored every last bite and, when my bowl was empty, I had seconds.

So, with the teeming rain and no sun in sight, I decided to make chili and cornbread for the family. But then I thought, what if I combined the two and made chili in a casserole dish and used the cornbread as a crust? A new, delicious comfort food was born.

Chili CornBread Casserole


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1, 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1, 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven; add onions and garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; add ground beef and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes; stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes; stir in chili powder, oregano, basil, cumin, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in kidney beans and reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. While the chili cooks, in a medium bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg, and butter; add buttermilk mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring until just combined.
  4. Spoon the chili into a 3-quart casserole dish; spread cornmeal mixture evenly over top of casserole dish; place casserole dish in middle of oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown and chili is bubbling.

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