Southern Iron Skillet Cornbread
Seriously, I don’t think you can get away with living in Oklahoma and profess to be a chef or home cook extraordinaire without having a good solid cornbread recipe under your belt. It pairs beautifully with beans and ham and chili and for gosh sakes, you must have this in your culinary arsenal if you’re going to bake cornbread based stuffing/dressing which I’ll be showing you later this week. Oh yes, and in the name of all that is good and holy, you really need to make it in an cast iron skillet to be truly authentic. Although I confess that I made cornbread for years in a regular ol’ 9 x 9 baking dish and it was just fine, but if you happen to have an iron skillet, it’s all the better!
If there was a fire and I had to take one pot or pan with me, it would be a toss up between this iron skillet my mother handed down to me a few years back and my 5.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven. The firemen would probably have to come in and rescue me to force me to decide.
The crispiness imparted on cornbread from an iron skillet is truly unmatched by an ordinary baking dish. But you can also skip the whole preheat the skillet thing and just make this recipe in a regular 9 x 9 pan.
To start, preheat your oven to 400º and spray or oil your iron skillet with some vegetable oil and pop it right into the oven. I don’t like to spray my cast iron, because I think it sometimes leaves a somewhat “gummy” residue. I use about a tablespoon of oil and rub it around with a brush or paper towel. If you want to super authentic, rub some bacon grease around in the pan for a truly but slightly less-healthy experience.
Now you’ll need to gather all the necessary ingredients, dry and wet.
Then it’s as simple as mixing together the dry ingredients – yellow cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, a tiny bit of sugar and salt. Savory southern cornbread really should be super sweet.
Take a whisk and mix it all up really well.
Then do the same with your wet ingredients. Melt one stick of butter or 8 tablespoons, better known as 1/2 cup.
Pour it all into a mixing bowl along with the buttermilk and eggs. You can buy a small container of buttermilk, OR you can do it the cheaters way and mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar into one cup of milk. I think the real thing is just better though.
Mix this all together.
And then simply pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones.
Stir it all up. It will be a bit lumpy and almost sponge like looking.
By now your skillet should be smoking hot and for the LOVE OF PETE make sure you use a hot pad to get it out of the oven. I have permanent scars from not doing this. It’s not pretty I tell ya.
Spread it out and you’ll probably start to hear a sizzle as the batter hits the hot pan. You can also give the pan a vigorous shake to level it out which is much quicker.
Pop it into the hot oven and in 20 minutes, the top should be browning and cracking a bit, and the edges should be browning up and crisping as well.
Let it rest for just a few minutes, and then cut it up and serve it hot with butter and honey or, if you live in the southwest like I do, some hot sauce on the side.
We love us some hot sauce here in the southwest. It’s on every table of every restaurant everywhere and you will pry it out of our cold dead fingers after the next Civil War, which will happen if you try to take it away from us.
Now you have a tried and true basic southern style cornbread recipe. Add a little more sugar if you like it sweeter, or add some chopped jalapenos and some canned corn and shredded sharp cheddar cheese if you want it to be heartier. Crumble it into some navy beans and ham and you’ll be a bona fide southern cook.
And for gosh sakes, sprinkle on some hot sauce.
- 1 T. vegetable or canola oil (or bacon grease)
- 1½ c. cornmeal
- 1 c. flour
- 1 T. sugar
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1 t. baking soda
- ½ t. salt
- ½ c. or 1 stick of butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 2 c. buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425º
- Brush or wipe iron skillet or 9 x 9 pan with the oil
- If using iron skillet, place skillet in oven while you gather and mix the ingredients together (or about 10 minutes),
- Mix all dry ingredients together (first 6 ingredients after the oil) with a whisk well
- Melt butter for one minute in microwave in microwave safe dish and then stir, microwaving for 30 second increments, stirring after each time until melted
- Mix wet ingredients - melted butter, eggs and buttermilk together'
- Pour wet ingredients in with dry ones and mix with wooden spoon or spatula.
- Remove iron skillet from oven and pour batter in.
- Return to oven and check at 20 minutes.
- Edges should be browned and crisp and top should be browning and cracking.
- Serve warm with hot sauce, butter or honey.