29 March 2007

Skillet Required

My family may well disown me if I don't get a cornbread recipe up here 'right quick,' so here we go. There have certainly been enough diatribes on cornbread to make it worthy of a UN peace treaty, so I’ll spare you any rhetoric except to say a few key things.

My cornbread is of the Southern variety, meaning it has no flour and barely any sugar. I can appreciate those sweet Northern varieties well enough, but to me they are more like muffins, and are too rich and sweet to be a side dish at dinner, much less dunked in a bowl of chili. Second, cornbread must be baked in a cast iron skillet because of the way the skillet retains heat which helps form the crispy crust. Finally, my grandmother and my mother have always insisted on white cornmeal, with no reason other than that’s the way it was always done. My mother says it gives a more tender crumb, and the cornbread still comes out yellow from the egg yolks and the toasting effect of the oven.

Skillet Cornbread
I was told that the key to remembering this recipe is that everything is in two’s. However, I find that two extra large eggs will make the batter too liquidy, so use two smaller eggs or one extra large.

2 tbl bacon drippings or shortening
2 cups cornmeal, we prefer stoneground white
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbl sugar
2 eggs (not extra large)
2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Place the 2 tablespoons of fat into a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and place the pan in the oven to heat.
2. In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix together the eggs and buttermilk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
3. Remove your preheated skillet and swirl it to distribute the fat. Pour the batter into the skillet (it should sizzle), and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

Mix It Up: chopped scallions, bacon crumbles, a can of creamed corn, or chilis and cheese are possible additions to play around with.



Veronica said...

a good skillet never goes amiss! i just bought one at a yard sale last weekend and the first thing i did was a batch of skillet corn bread :)

Mercedes said...

Good for you- the good thing about a used one is you don't have to season it!