Our first attempt at cornbread came out tasting unfamiliar to us - it was dry, it wasn't sweet, it was crumbly... we were like eh? what happened to this?
Little did we know - there is a difference between Northern (where we're from) and Southern (where we're not) cornbread. Unfortunately, we only discovered this AFTER we got our cornbread recipe out of the otherwise-fantastic Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. This invaluable recipe resource was a wedding gift to us from my cousin Emily and her family - and it's been used quite a bit.
However, this Southern cornbread recipe - one tablespoon sugar? Shortening, not butter? We gave it a shot and later - through online research - learned that Southern cornbread is more of an everyday bread so it's less sweet and more like actual bread. The cornbread WE were looking for was the denser, sweeter cornbread we were used to - being, youknow, from the North and all...
So we gave it a second shot and scored a homerun with this Northern Bacon Skillet Cornbread... It was sweet and smokey and delicious.
- 4 bacon slices, cooked and bacon fat preserved
- 1 cups corn meal
- 1 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
Preheat your oven to 425 and cook up your bacon. Drain the bacon pieces on paper towels and pour out the bacon drippings into a small bowl. When cooled, break up the bacon into ~1/4 inch chunks.
Take your cast-iron skillet and pour in the ~2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or just use a 13x9x2-inch metal or glass baking pan). Tilt skillet to coat bottom and sides of pan with bacon drippings. (Or, if cooked earlier and the bacon drippings have congealed, you can use a paper towel and just "grease" the skillet as you would with shortening.) Place skillet in oven until bacon drippings are hot, about 6 minutes.
While that's heating, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into large bowl - and add the cornmeal. Stir in sugar. Whisk eggs and softened butter in another bowl to blend, then add to dry ingredients along with the buttermilk. Stir - "creaming" the butter in with a fork - just until blended. Before your very last stir, throw in the bacon chunks and perform the final stir...
Transfer batter to that prepared hot baking pan - batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Bake corn bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool as long as you can stand, but best warm! Cut corn bread into wedges - or squares - and enjoy.
Dense, smokey, sweet, crispy edges, cakey inside... We enjoyed ours with a great field greens salad with beets and oranges, and a nice piece of one of two chickens - hot off the grill outside! Grilled chickens, cornbread, and salad - our own version of Southern Cooking!