There are many Southern tables where no meal appears without cornbread. I grew up with this rich, crumbly, crusty stuff, and I still find that it's one of my ultimate comfort foods. This is the way my mother made cornbread, and how I still make it for my children.
Here in the Appalachian Mountains, there are certain dishes that require cornbread - the ultimate dish is probably our humble soup beans - a bowl of slow simmered pinto beans, simply done with cornbread on the side. Or to crumble into the bowl.
This is the basic version - simple, quick, easy and delicious. You can certainly bake this off in a casserole dish if you wish, but there are a couple of things you can do to make it much more 'authentic' - and to improve the crust. Using a cast iron skillet is the first - cast iron gets hotter, maintains temperature better, and allows you to heat the oil or grease that will develop a better crust.
If you bake the cornbread off in a hotter oven, at 425F instead of 350F, you'll also get a darker, crispier crust. It's all about your preference - this is how I do it for my daughter. She loves the crispy outside crust the best.
I call for bacon grease in this recipe - it goes two places. It goes in the batter itself, and as a base to melt in the pan. This is the heritage cooking I grew up with, and I love doing it this way. You can substitute canola or vegetable oil if you just must - but if you happen to have pork cracklings to mix into the batter, you'll find yourself in Cornbread Heaven.
- 1 cup self rising cornmeal
- 1/2 cup self rising flour
- 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350F. (Or to 425F for a darker cornbread).
- Put 2 tablespoons of oil or grease in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven to preheat with the oven temperature. If you just have a casserole dish and no iron skillet, skip this part, and just lightly grease the dish.
- Combine cornmeal, flour, buttermilk and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, add bacon grease or vegetable oil, and pour into the hot cast iron skillet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 350F, or until golden brown. Alternately, if you wish the darker cornbread, bake for about 15 minutes at 425F.
- Invert the cornbread pan over a platter, to allow the crispy underside to be on top. All done!
This is fabulous hot out of the oven with just butter. This is wonderful with fried chicken, by the way, or warmed for breakfast with a little syrup. Or cold for that matter!
- The Thrillbilly Gourmet
Combining classic technique with everyday food for spectacular results!
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