Cornbread on the Stovetop?
Besides the 105 degrees here in Texas outside, heating the oven is such an energy burner, and my autolighter got zapped in a power surge, so I'm looking for the innovative types that have master cooking corn bread, in a cast iron skillet, on top of the stove rather than in the oven?
Now, before you laugh, shake your head, or mutter 'idiot' -- those cowboys made cornbread on the open-pit campfires, yes? And I was a Cub Scout once, and camped, but can't remember cornbread being one of the staples of campfire cooking. So any of y'all been on a wagon train lately and care to share with this city-ite how one might perform this magic feat?
Anyone? Any advice or suggestions welcomed.
Also, the venerable jonnycakes of Rhode Island (properly made with the very hard white flint cornmeal from Kenyon's, Gray's or Carpenter's grist mills); the thick cake tradition comes from the western half of the state, and the thin style comes from the eastern part of the state. The thin style is more like a small cornmeal crepe, and is absolutely delicious.
If you're wondering how southeastern New Englanders have a tradition of unsweetened (well, until you add syrup) white cornmeal griddle cakes, while the rest of The North favors sweet yellow cakey cornbread, well consider that Providence, Newport and Bristol (the last being part of Massachusetts until the mid-1700s) were major ports in the infamous Triangle Trade. I suspect that the Southern preference in cornmeal breads and cakes was actually a reflection of ties to Rhode Island....
re: Karl S
Oh, I LOVE jonnycake and was just thinking of whipping some up yesterday. I buy my white flint cornmeal from Gray's and use a combination of their two recipes, plus I let the batter rest a bit so that it absorbs a lot of liquid (I'm a tweaker). I don't sweeten it, though--I use Paula Deen's white gravy recipe to which I add crumbled Morningstar Farms Breakfast Patties (I'm a vegetarian).
A bit OT here: Kenyon's produces a Honey & Oat pancake mix that's out of this world. You can purchase it at Dean and Deluca if you're in NYC.
I've made stovetop cornbread from a mix in a small, well (bacon) greased, cast iron skillet. My tips:
- Keep the flame Low after the skillet is up to heat
- Don't skimp on the bacon fat :-)
- Tightly cover with foil
- Flip the cornbread half way through the cooking time
I think range cooks probably used a cast iron dutch oven and put coals on the purpose designed lid. Sometimes I wish I had one ....
I made cornbread in a cast iron skillet recently out of necessity. I had the skillet with the bacon grease sizzling hot over a med high heat. Poured the batter into the skillet, partially covered the skillet with a lid (so that it wasn't steaming the bread) and cooked for 20 minutes. It was crispy brown on the sides and bottom but of course didn't brown on top, I turned it upside down on the plate to serve so no one was the wiser... but it was delicious! Oh, by the way... this was in a park, I was going to bake it on the grill but the skillet wouldn't fit inside my little portable grill so I did it on a gas burner.
Joy of Cooking (various editions) has 1 or 2 recipes for cornmeal pancakes. In one the corn is first mixed with boiling water and allowed to hydrate for 10 minutes. Another uses a thinner crepe like batter.
I've been experimenting with stove top biscuits. Even refrigerator biscuits (in the tube) work ok in a covered skillet (with turning once). The rise might not be quite what you get in an oven, it isn't bad.
My grandfather made a fabulous cornbread in an electric skillet. He used Martha White self rising white cornmeal, flour, eggs & buttermilk and measured everything with a coffee cup. He liberally greased the skillet, put it on med low, covered it and flipped it 1/2 way through. I neglected to get his recipe & would GLADLY pay a large sum of cash to have it now. It was light, crunchy, corny and was a staple for every meal in my grandparent's house--I would KILL for a piece of his cornbread right now.