skillet sizzled

Here’s some cornbread to go with that soup.

My friends and I have sort of an unspoken battle going on about cornbread.  When we do meals in community (also known as might as well feed all 20 of those buggers at once), we often eat cornbread, and every self-respecting Southerner has their own favorite, often passed down from their grandmother, version of this once staple food of the deep South.  The gals in this group have this circulating recipe for broccoli cornbread that is frequently considered to be the best cornbread on earth.  I’m pretty sure it first came from our friend Rhonda, who blogs occasionally.  And I will confess, it is good.  It is very good.  I enjoyed eating it very much alongside my chili until one day, I accidentally saw a copy of the recipe.  I say accidentally because I think I had a hunch from the taste about what actually was inside this cornbread, and I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to eat it, much less fix it if I knew the real truth.  But now that I have seen it, I have to limit myself to one small square of the stuff and completely skip dessert.  No, I haven’t stopped eating it altogether.  I just can no longer eat it blissfully unaware that it is pretty much half butter, half sugar and a little weensy bit of corn meal.  I hear you all saying that it has BROCCOLI it it for CRYING OUT LOUD, so it must be healthy.  But I assure you.  The broccoli is only a disguise for the fact that what you are actually eating is a piece of cake.  The problem is that I really like to have about 4 pieces of cornbread with my soup, so I would rather fix a cornbread that I know will not be causing heart failure anytime soon, one that I can feel good about dishing out by the plateful to the wee ones.  And so if it is my turn to fix cornbread, I make this one.  This hearty, made from stone ground cornmeal, not jiffy cornbread, browned to the perfect state of crispy-edge-ness in a cast iron skillet.

However, in the interest of full cooking disclosure, there is a small detail that you might not want to accidentally know about my version of this cornbread.  It is this.  If I happen to have some around, I use bacon grease instead of butter to coat the skillet.  I am really ashamed to admit this, as I don’t really even eat bacon and I think that pork is about the nastiest imaginable meat.  But I just had to confess.  So I guess you had better measure your heart risks in case you’d rather have the broccoli cornbread, in which case you will have to hound someone else for the recipe, because I figure that at the rate my memory is going, if I don’t look at it for the next few years, I am bound to forget what it is in it.

Skillet Sizzled Cornbread

from Soup and Bread, by Crescent Dragonwagon

1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use half whole wheat)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup mild vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.

In separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in buttermilk.  Then add egg, sugar and oil.

Put butter in the skillet and melt in oven until sizzling.

While the butter is melting, stir wet ingredients into try ingredients and stir just until mixed…don’t overmix.  Pull out skillet, swirl butter around to coat sides and pour in batter.  Return to oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown.