What do you think of when you think of the South? What do you think of when you think about cast iron skillets?
If you thought CORNBREAD, you've come to the right place, because I happen to have the BEST cornbread recipe you'll find. If it sounds like I'm bragging, I am, but then again, you would to if you had a family heirloom.
So, here's the deal. My great grandmother (Meme) made the best cornbread known to man. I now have the distinct honor of making cornbread in her beloved Lodge #7 skillet. If you don't have a dedicated "cornbread skillet", I suggest this one. The skillet is EVERYTHING. Believe me, I've had cornbread made in metal skillets and it's just not the same. Now, this particular skillet is 100+ years old and as smooth as a baby's bottom...the taste it gives is impeccable. But, I digress.
Though I use my MeMe's skillet, I don't use her exact recipe. I finally achieved 5 star approval from my husband when I combined my Gramma's and Meme's recipe, and luckily for you, I'm willing to share.
Back to the skillet, in order to achieve a golden brown, crunchy crust you MUST heat oil in your skillet BEFORE baking your cornbread. To start you need to add good ole Crisco (vegetable oil or bacon grease can also be used - beware of using too much bacon grease as it can make it too rich, I would recommend only a teaspoon mixed with vegetable oil or crisco). I scoop out about the size of a golf ball of crisco and place the skillet in the oven on 425º for about 10 minutes. When you get it out, sprinkle just a pinch of cornmeal into the skillet, if it sizzles, it's ready - if not, stick it back in the oven for 3-5 minutes until it's ready.
While your grease is heating start prepping your cornbread! In a mixing bowl, stir together 2 Cups cornmeal, 1 Cup Buttermilk, 1 large egg and 1 T vegetable oil. Make sure you are using Self-Rising cornmeal, I personally use White Lilly or Martha White. Stir together all ingredients until smooth (add more buttermilk slowly as needed), you want the consistency of a thick waffle mix. Get it too runny and it'll turn out pancakey (I create new words, as well as, food); if you do get it too runny, no problem, just add a bit more meal!
Once your grease is pipping hot, here is the SECRET TRICK: Carefully pour about 1 tsp of the hot oil into your cornbread mix and stir. Make sure you still leave oil in the skillet! Add a sprinkle of salt to the bottom of the skillet (my Nana's secret) and pour your mixture in. Pop it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until it's golden brown!
Southern Hack: Once your cornbread is done, carefully "flip" it over in the skillet, crust up! Slice like a pie, put a tab of butter in the middle of your slice and enjoy!
Cornbread is a Southern staple and growing up it was paired with almost every single meal. Give it a try and let me know how yours turns out!
PS-- Don't wash your skillet with soap; just rinse out with water, dry and put away!