- Will Owen
I was ranting in a Chowhound posting about the impossibility of finding "real" cornbread in the LA area (where it's always some kind of sweet cake-like substance), and someone asked if I'd post a recipe to this board. This is the best of several I have.
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow, as preferred)
2 Tbs self-rising flour
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 huge egg
1 Tbs bacon grease
2 Tbs vegetable shortening
Put the fats into an 8" iron skillet; set skillet in a cold oven, and turn the oven on to preheat to 425º.
Beat egg with salt and soda. Beat in cornmeal and flour. Add buttermilk, stir to blend into a batter. When the oven is up to temperature, pour the melted grease into the batter, beat it in, then quickly pour it into the hot skillet. Set skillet on oven's bottom shelf for 5 minutes, then on the top shelf for 12.
Notes: if you don't have self-rising flour, use all-purpose and add 1/4 tsp baking powder. If you'd rather not use bacon grease, add shortening; if you'd rather not use hydrogenated shortening, use lard; if you don't have any buttermilk stir 1 Tbs of white vinegar into a cup of milk and let sit at room temperature for half an hour.
I use 2 C. cornmeal, preferably Indian Head
4 tsp. baking powder Pf. Rumford
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. milk
2 Tbs. fat.
If I am going to use buttermilk then I add a tsp. of baking soda. Make sure the pan or corn stick pans are smoking hot so that when the batter hits the pan it sizzles and fries a bit.
Albers seems to be what's most available here in the LA area. It's okay - at least as good as Quaker brand.
When I was in Nashville I got used to buying 2- to 5-pound sacks of cornmeal, either yellow or white, both plain and self-rising. Here it's hard to find it even in two-pound boxes!
Sometimes when I'm making a simpler cornbread than this and want some real smoked meat in it, I'll chop up a couple of slices of good dry-cured bacon and put that in the cold skillet instead of any other fat. By the time the oven is up to heat (no more than 400º for this) the bacon is well-cooked, and I beat it and the grease into the batter and then return the pan to the middle of the oven - done in 15-18 minutes, usually.
Sorry to post twice...the buttermilk thing is also awesome..buttermilk and baking go hand in hand, I'm finding out...makes every cake or baked good come out so moist! Well, sour cream also is good for that!