Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cornbread Apology

I am afraid I created some hurt feelings when I didn’t invite everyone over for beans and cornbread last night. Sorry, so many people look down their noses at me when I start being wistful about “country” or “hillbilly” food that I am always surprised when people tell me they like it. There are so many food snobs around these days that you rarely find someone that will admit to enjoying simple victuals.

In apology for failing to invite everyone for dinner last night I will share my “top secret” recipe for buttermilk cornbread. I have been making cornbread for many, many years and fiddling with recipes all the time. I am finally finished fiddling as this recipe makes consistently good cornbread every time.

3 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour

1 -2 tablespoons sugar (to taste or you can leave it out altogether)

1 and ¼ cups of preferably white, stone ground corn meal (not self rising)

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda (you need this because of the buttermilk)

2 eggs (I use large)

1 cup of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of canola, peanut or corn oil for the batter (melted butter is good too)

2 tablespoons of oil for the pan(ditto on the butter but it will scorch even quicker)

Place a well seasoned 10 inch cast iron frying pan in a preheated 425 degree oven to heat up while you mix the batter. Have a couple of tablespoons spoons of oil set aside to add right at the end of preheating. You want the pan and oil hot when you add the batter but if you heat the oil in the pan from the beginning it may scorch if you are slow at putting the batter together.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat the eggs slightly and mix with the buttermilk and add the oil. Mix into the dry ingredients and mix well but don’t over mix. Pour into the hot pan. You should see the batter on the edges start to swell and cook immediately. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until it is nicely browned on top. You will have to adjust your cooking until you get the bottom crust the way you like it. I like mine dark and crispy but some like it lighter. After cooking turn the cornbread out on a cutting board top down. It sometimes helps to give the frying pan a sideways knock on something to break the cornbread loose. Cut into wedges.

You can also make muffins and corn sticks with this recipe.

For variations on this recipe try adding a couple of finely chopped seeded jalapeno peppers or/and add a handful (half cup or so) of fresh corn cut off the cob(you can use frozen). For a truly southern style “cracklin’” cornbread cut about three or four strips of bacon(or fat back) into small pieces and partially cook it(until almost crisp so that you have plenty of bacon fat in the pan) in the preheating cast iron pan and pour the batter over the bacon bits and bacon fat in the pan instead of oiling the pan.

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