Food & Drink

Southern Skillet Cornbread

Serves 8 to 12

Try this recipe from Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook

photo: Peter Frank Edwards


Cornbread is a cornerstone of Southern—and American—food tradition: the country’s first bread made without yeast. It evolved from nourishing Cherokee corn-and-bean cakes into simple unleavened ash cakes and pones baked on the hearthstones of frontier cabins, then into portable Johnny cakes and hoecakes that fortified soldiers and farmers alike, and finally into the iconic skillet-baked round we treasure today. Unlike the cakey cornbread of the North, traditional Southern cornbread relies on coarser cornmeal and little or no flour or sugar. If there’s any secret, it’s not so much an ingredient as a technique. Put the fat—melted lard or bacon grease—in a cast-iron skillet, put the skillet into a hot oven while you assemble the ingredients, then pour in the bread batter. The sizzle you’ll hear—and the golden crust that results from it—is what truly sets Southern cornbread apart.

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Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons melted lard or bacon grease

    • 2 cups good-quality coarse-ground yellow cornmeal, such as McEwen & Sons or Anson Mills

    • 1 teaspoon baking powder

    • 1 teaspoon baking soda

    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

    • 2 large eggs

    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk


Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Put 2 tablespoons of the lard or grease in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven to preheat.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and the remaining 2 tablespoons lard together, mixing well to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until incorporated. Do not overmix.

  4. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and swirl the melted fat to coat the bottom and sides. Pour the batter into the pan and return it to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden on top and has pulled away from sides of the pan slightly. (A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.) Slice and serve.

Recipe from Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook


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