I once was approached by a Mexican woman with whom Big Daddy (aka My Wonderful Husband) works. She wanted a pan of my homemade, Southern cornbread and was willing to trade homemade tamales for them.
She got the raw end of the deal, as this is about the easiest thing in the world to make. Besides Southern Pecan Pie.
I got the tamales.
Take my advice and ditch the boxed stuff. Who knows? You might get free tamales out of the deal.
Here’s what you need to get started:
1 1/2 cups of self-rising corn meal (This is not as easy to find in SoCal as it is in my homeland of TN; however, it is in the Foods of the World section of my local Albertson’s grocery store. There’s a section labeled “Southern” on the same aisle as foods from India, Asia, Italy, and Jewish foods. No joke. I can’t make this stuff up.)
2 Tbls. self-rising flour
oil (enough to coat the bottom of your cast-iron skillet)
Oh, and 1 cup of buttermilk
The date on mine was suspect, but I gave it the official, very scientific smell test. We’re good.
I’ve heard that, if you’re out of buttermilk, you can substitute 1 cup of regular milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes before you move on. My Mammaw does it, and her stuff always tastes amazing!
When I’m out, I just ask Big Daddy to run down to the store. He’s sweet that way.
No, cornbread does not have sugar in it. Unless you are from the Carolinas. Or are a Communist.
In Tennessee, cornbread with sugar in it is called…cake.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Coat the bottom of the skillet with some oil.
Put it in the hot oven and let the skillet and oil heat up while you mix up the rest. The hot oil will cause the cornbread to crisp on the outside, while staying nice and moist and yummy inside.
Next, mix the cornmeal, flour, eggs, and buttermilk together in a mixing bowl. Pick a bowl that can, later, take the heat of the hot oil. The mix should look about like this:
This next part requires some care. Hot oil and skin do NOT mix.
After the oil has been in the oven about 5 minutes or so, take the skillet out of the oven and pour the hot oil into the cornmeal mix.
Hear the sizzle? That’s greasy goodness coming to your senses!
Stir the mixture CAREFULLY (please don’t slosh any hot grease out onto yourself like I did while I was taking these pics!), and return to the hot skillet.
Spread evenly across the bottom of the skillet.
Place the skillet back in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes.
Maybe eat some Girl Scout Thin Mints while you wait.
I’m not saying I did. I’m just saying it’s an option.
When it’s done, it should look like this:
Yes, it still looks white on the top. Look closely. It’s brown around the outer edges and cracking on the top.
If it doesn’t yet look like this, put it back in the oven for 2 more minutes. Perhaps another Thin Mint? I won’t tell. By then, you should be good.
Now, move the rack to the top and turn on the broiler. Broil the bread to brown it on top. When it’s done, it should look like this:
Have you ever seen anything more beautiful in all your born days? Feels like home at the end of a long day.
Now comes the tricky part.
Put a plate on top of the bread and flip it.
Cut it into 8, equal parts. Like a pie. Or, better yet, don’t tell anyone you made it and eat it all yourself.
This tastes great with most anything, but goes especially well with beans, like pintos. And butter. Natch. Big Daddy says it tastes better in the beans.
Pinto beans -n- cornbread. It’s a Southern thang.
Here’s a tip: DO NOT feed this to your guests unless you want them to come back and bring their friends with them.
Cornbread: it’s what’s for dinner.