Try our Pancetta Cornbread-Pane di Mais con Pancetta this holiday. Our all-time favorite Italian cornbread recipe from scratch made even better with the addition of delicious pancetta. So easy to make and it goes great with any meal.
Do you ever just crave cornbread? Usually I make Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread. ((not my grandmother, but a great recipe!). When you try this pancetta cornbread (pane di mais con pancetta), you will soon start to crave it.
I wish I could say it was something you try once and you could live without for a while because it was too rich or too spicy or too something.
This is one of those breads that you will want to make not just for a holiday.
The funny thing is, I usually think of cornbread when I think of Thanksgiving. Mostly because cornbread is one of my favorite things to make for the big holiday. I also like to make cornbread just so I can make homemade cornbread stuffing, and then I can overindulge on one of my favorite parts of the meal, and it's truly just my fault!
Pancetta Cornbread-Pane di Mais con Pancetta
My mother-in-law loves the texture and how how easy it is to whip up! She would most likely make something yeasted like this cornmeal bread.
It's been an insanely busy time here with the kids and some family in town. My daughter celebrated her confirmation, and it was a very big thing for our family.
The confirmation was almost like celebrating a baptism or a communion. It is all about the party afterward and being with family and enjoying lots of incredible
An Italian Thanksgiving Menu
This is our first recipe in our Italian Inspired Thanksgiving Menu series. It was time to share delicious Italian Thanksgiving recipes to inspire you! Don’t miss our Best Ever Italian Sausage Stuffing and our Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes (so easy to make!).
Another Italian main dish to try is our Roasted Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Lasagna. Italian Cranberry Sauce is too delicious to miss! A fabulous Italian inspired dessert is our Amaretti Almond Pumpkin Pie...it’s so good!!
This is our first recipe in our Italian Inspired Thanksgiving Menu series. Stay tuned for more delicious Italian Thanksgiving recipes to inspire you!
Why This Recipe Works:
- Inclusion of Pancetta: The use of pancetta in this recipe adds a robust, savory element that complements the bread's inherent sweetness, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Balanced Ingredients: The measured combination of cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda creates a well-structured and flavorful cornbread.
- Use of Buttermilk and Sour Cream: The addition of these ingredients ensures a moist and tender texture, contributing to the cornbread's overall richness.
- Baking in a Cast-Iron Skillet: By baking the cornbread in a preheated cast-iron skillet, this recipe ensures a crispy and golden crust.
- Sauteed Onion and Pancetta: Pre-cooking these ingredients brings out their flavors and ensures they are perfectly cooked in the final product.
- Folding Technique: The careful incorporation of pancetta and onions into the batter without overmixing helps maintain the cornbread's delicate texture.
Ingredients for this italian cornbread
- Pancetta: Adds a savory, slightly salty flavor that complements the sweetness of the cornmeal. It also provides texture to the bread.
- Onion: Adds sweetness and depth of flavor, balancing the richness of the pancetta and the cornmeal.
- Cornmeal: The main ingredient in the bread, it gives the cornbread its distinctive flavor and texture.
- All-purpose flour: Adds structure to the cornbread, helping it rise and maintain its shape during baking.
- Brown sugar: Adds sweetness to the bread, balancing the savory flavor of the pancetta and onion.
- Salt: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Baking powder & baking soda: Leavening agents that help the bread rise.
- Buttermilk: Adds tanginess and richness to the bread, and helps to tenderize the gluten, making the bread softer.
- Sour cream: Adds moisture and fat, which makes the cornbread tender and rich.
- Eggs: Adds structure and helps to bind all the ingredients together.
- Salted butter: Adds fat for richness and flavor, and helps create a nice crust when it's melted in the hot pan before adding the batter.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Bacon instead of Pancetta: If pancetta is not available in your local grocery store, or if you prefer the smoky flavor, bacon can serve as a great alternative.
- Vegetarian Option: For a vegetarian version, you can omit the pancetta and add in extra veggies such as bell peppers or jalapenos for more flavor and texture.
- Gluten-free Cornbread: Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend to make this recipe gluten-friendly. Make sure to check the labels of your baking powder and baking soda as well, as some brands may contain traces of gluten.
- Dairy-free Option: Use a non-dairy milk such as almond milk or oat milk in place of buttermilk. You can also replace sour cream with non-dairy yogurt, and use a dairy-free butter alternative or coconut oil instead of butter.
- Add-ins: Feel free to add some shredded cheese, corn kernels or chopped jalapenos into the batter for more variations.
- Preheat Your Oven: Start by setting your oven to 400° F. Place an 8 to 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside as it warms up.
- Prepare the Pancetta and Onion: Next, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Melt a tablespoon of butter, then add the onion pieces. Saute these for about 2 minutes, then add the diced pancetta. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes until lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
- Make Cornmeal Mush: On the side, bring 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cornmeal quickly until it forms a warm mush.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a separate medium bowl, combine the remaining cornmeal, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Combine Wet Ingredients: Now, pour the buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs into the cornmeal mixture and mix it well with a spatula. Gently fold in the sauteed pancetta and onions.
- Prepare the Pan: Once the oven has reached 400° F, remove the skillet from the oven. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and swirl around until it melts. Pour any excess butter into the cornmeal mixture.
- Combine Pancetta, Onions, and Batter: Fold the sauteed pancetta and onions into the cornmeal mixture, stirring until just combined. Be careful not to overmix as it can make the cornbread tough.
- Bake the Cornbread: Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet, smoothing out the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cornbread turns golden brown. You can check its doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center- it should come out clean. Note that the exact baking time may vary depending on the size of your skillet.
- Serve: Finally, remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving. Enjoy it while it's warm for the best flavor and texture.
Expert Tips for this savory cornbread
- Quality of ingredients: Always use the best quality ingredients whenever possible. This is especially true for the cornmeal and pancetta in this recipe. The flavor of the cornbread will greatly depend on these two ingredients.
- Preheating the skillet: Remember to preheat your cast iron skillet before adding the cornbread batter. This helps in creating a nice, crispy crust on the outside of the cornbread.
- Baking time: Be vigilant about the baking time. All ovens are not created equal and baking times may vary. The cornbread is done when it's golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cooling: Let the cornbread cool in the pan for several minutes before trying to remove it. This will make it easier to handle and cut, and it will hold its shape better.
- Storage: If you’re not planning on eating all the cornbread immediately, store it in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
You could cut any leftover of your cornbread into squares (serving size that you like). Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum paper. Cover the cornbread with foil paper so it won't brown. Heat it 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cornbread is warmed all the way.
The best way to freeze leftover cornbread is to wrap each slice in plastic wrap each serving in cling film before placing them into one larger freezer bag. Place the wrapped pieces in a zipped lock freezer bag (squeeze out the air before sealing the bag).
Place the bag in the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months.
I sometimes make cornbread in a square baking pan. I like to get the perfect squares to serve. They’re good but just not same as baking in cast iron skillet. A cast iron skillet will give you a crusty, crunchy cornbread.
Well, bacon, of course! Just use whatever is your favorite bacon. It will still be delicious and irresistible!
You have to properly season your skillet. After you have cleaned it you have to season it again. Another tip is to preheat your cast iron pan before baking cornbread in it. I really like to use baking spray. I find that it consistently coats the whole pan so their is no sticking at all!
Yes, let it cool a bit before removing. We do like our cornbread still a bit warm so the butter will melt on it!
Cornbread is a broad term for any bread primarily made with cornmeal. Southern cornbread, on the other hand, is a specific style of cornbread traditional in the Southern United States. Southern cornbread typically has a more crumbly texture and less sugar, resulting in a savory, rather than sweet, flavor profile.
Whether cornbread should be sweet or savory depends on personal preference and regional tradition. Northern and Midwestern styles of cornbread in the United States often contain more sugar for a sweet flavor, while Southern cornbread is typically less sweet and more savory. The recipe provided here offers a balance of both sweet and savory with the inclusion of brown sugar and savory ingredients like pancetta and onion.
You can add a variety of ingredients to spice up cornbread. For a spicy kick, consider adding diced jalapenos or a dash of cayenne pepper. If you prefer a more savory cornbread, you might add sautéed onions, bell peppers, or cheese. For a sweet twist, try adding honey or fresh corn kernels.
Cornbread can be either savory or sweet, depending on the ingredients used. In general, Southern-style cornbread is more savory, while Northern-style cornbread is sweeter. The recipe provided here is savory with a subtle hint of sweetness from the brown sugar.
Originally published May 2016 and updated for content October 2023.
More recipes like this:
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- Sweet Corn Spoonbread
- Traditional Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Savory Cornbread (Pane di Mais con Pancetta)
- 1/2 cup of pancetta diced
- 1 small onion chopped in small pieces
- 1 3/4 cups of cornmeal
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 1/3 cups of sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons of salted butter cut into large chunks
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Place an 8 to 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven.
- Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and melt. Add the onions and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Saute for another 3 minutes, until the pancetta is very lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and pour in 1/2 cup of the cornmeal. Stir rapidly until you have a warm mush.
- In a medium bowl, blend the remaining corn meal, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Add the buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs to the cornmeal mixture and mix well with a spatula. Fold in the pancetta and onions.
- Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, remove the pan from the oven. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan and swirl to melt and grease the pan. Pour any excess butter into the cornmeal mixture.
- Fold the pancetta and onions into the cornmeal mixture and stir until just incorporated with a wooden spoon. Don’t overwork the batter or the cornbread will be tough.
- Carefully add the batter to the hot pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (check it with a toothpick in the center, it should come out clean-baking time will vary depending on the size of the pan you used). Serve warm.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.