(Serves about 10-12, depending on sizes of slices)
6 strips apple smoked bacon (raw), finely chopped
¼ red onion, finely minced
• Black pepper
1 ¼ cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
7 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup honey
1 cup pepper-jack cheese, grated
-Preheat the oven to 425°, and butter a 8 ½” x 8 ½” x 2” (roughly) baking dish.
-Place a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and once hot, add in the chopped bacon and cook until crispy and golden brown; remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and allow it drain on paper towel; set aside for a moment.
-Next, pour most of the bacon grease out of the pan, leaving back about 1-2 tablespoons; with the heat on medium/medium-low, add in the minced red onion, along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and caramelize it for a few minutes until very soft, sweet and golden-brown; remove from the pan and set aside for a moment.
-Prepare the cornbread batter by adding the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large bowl, and whisk to combine those dry ingredients; next, add to the dry ingredients the buttermilk, the eggs, the melted butter and the honey, and gently fold/stir just until combined; add in the crisped bacon, the caramelized red onion and about half of the cheese, and fold those ingredients in, just until combined; pour the batter into the buttered baking dish, sprinkle over top the remainder of the grated cheese, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted; allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving. Serve with salted whipped butter and some honey on the side.