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Skillet Corn Bread
Corn bread was the quintessential daily bread for mountain families, who often made it at least once daily so there was always some about to be eaten in many ways, fresh or leftover. When hot from the oven, Southern corn bread is as moist as it'll be, and full of corn flavor with nary a touch of sweet beyond what the corn gives.
Fresh corn bread was served as an accompaniment to a meal such as beans and greens, contributing both flavor and function, as it could be used to soak up every last lick of pot likker. Cold leftover corn bread might be served for dessert or, even better, breakfast the next day, perhaps as "bread and milk", crumbled right into a tall glass of buttermilk and seasoned to taste with a few grinds of black pepper or a spoonful of sorghum. Or the bread can be split, fried cut-side-down on the griddle, and then drizzled with sorghum and buttermilk. This is one of my favorite breakfasts!
- 3 TABLESPOONS BACON FAT, OR 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS EACH UNSALTED BUTTER AND VEGETABLE
- 2 CUPS (11 OUNCES) STONE-GROUND YELLOW CORNMEAL
- 1 TEASPOON KOSHER SALT
- 1/2 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
- 1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
- 1 LARGE EGG
- 1 1/2 CUPS WELL-SHAKEN BUTTERMILK
- Preheat the oven to 450F. If using bacon fat, place it in a well-seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven as it preheats. If using butter and oil, wait until step 3 to heat the skillet.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
- If using butter and oil, heat them in the skillet over high heat until the oil is shimmering.
- Pour the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir just until blended and smooth. Be prepared to immediately transfer the batter into a hot skillet.
- Remove the hot skillet from the oven or from the stovetop. Carefully scrape the batter into the skillet. The batter should sizzle vigorously around the edges.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the corn bread is firm and golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.