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Old South Cornbread

Here's an authentic Old South Cornbread recipe given to me by my sister-in-law Martha. She probably got it from her mom, Sara. We all agreed that this was the most flavorful, crusty, and delightful cornbread recipes we've tried in a long time. The cornbread you are used to might be lighter and sweeter than this; in the South that is called Johnnycake.

In the photo I've served the cornbread with chile con carne and a simple salad made of Romaine lettuce, dill pickle chips, and Ranch dressing. Dill pickle chips? Yep, try it.

This cornbread is supposed to be made in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. It starts out on the stove and winds up in the oven. I haven't seen my cast iron skillet for a long time, and as I remember it's a lot bigger than 10 inches. So I made an experiment.

I went to Sav-On, or somewhere similar, and bought a $9.95 aluminum non-stick skillet that was about 1 1/2 inches deep. I figured that unless it melted all over the oven I was way ahead. Well, it worked fine. So use a cast iron skillet if you have one, but otherwise I'll bet you can get by either with what you have or what you can get inexpensively.

Here's the recipe for Old South Cornbread:

1 cup white corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted bacon fat

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Melt the bacon grease in the skillet on the stove. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the egg and milks in another. Then combine them and stir well.

Heat the bacon fat until it's smoking, then reduce the heat and slowly add the batter. Using a whisk, stir the batter to incorporate the melted fat. You'll probably have to stir for four or five minutes, or longer, but it will eventually become uniformly smooth.

Put the skillet in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. When done, remove the skillet (remember, the handle will be hot!) and put on the stove to cool for a while. Then put a plate upside down over the skillet and flip them over. The cornbread should fall out of the skillet onto the plate.

Slice and serve with butter. Now you'll know what Southern cornbread should be like! If you want to try the sweeter Northern variety, we've got that too.


Copyright John P. Choisser - CookingDude.com 2005-2013