Friday, January 13, 2012

Little House Cornbread

I was shopping on Amazon for Christmas presents a couple of weeks ago and I stumbled upon The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick. After reading the reviews some folks left, I was compelled to buy a used copy for a few bucks. Apparently, there are techniques and skills involved in this book that some consider "American treasures" of folk culture. That sold me.

I've since read most of it, and I've tried a recipe that I'd like to share with you all. I initially tried this recipe in my 12" cast iron skillet, but I assure you, it's a smidge too big and the cornbread comes out crushed-looking. Try it in your 9" skillet and you'll have a much more pleasing outcome.

Try this recipe in your 9" cast iron pan and enjoy some delicious cornbread to go with some chili for dinner, or just straight out of the over with some butter, nom!

The bacon grease adds a lot to this, both in flavor and purpose. I really recommend trying it. Make BLTs the night before for dinner, and save the rendered fat!

You'll need:
  • The preserved bacon grease from 4 slices of bacon. I save my bacon grease in a small jar, but if you don't, consider 4 slices of bacon added to the recipe. Cook 'em up good and collect at least 2 tablespoons of the grease for this recipe. Save the rest for another day?
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking power
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of honey, but you can decrease it to 1/8 if you don't like sweetness in your cornbread too much
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.  
  2. Combine 2/3 cup of the cornmeal with sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set bowl aside.
  3. Put the remaining 1/3 cup cornmeal into a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over. Stir it together until you get a stiff mixture. Let it cool off a bit, now.
  4. Place the hot skillet with the bacon grease into the oven until the grease is crackling hot. (I actually didn't do this the first time and I got uneven baking because I just heated it on the stove top.)
  5. Whisk the buttermilk and honey into the cornmeal mixture, stirring until it's all smooth. 
  6. Whisk the egg into that mush!
  7. Now slowly mix the dry ingredients you put aside in step #2 into the mush until everything is uniformly moist.
  8. Drag out that skillet - be careful, it's hot! Quickly pour that mixture into the hot skillet and be careful of the spittle that may kick up. It's not that bad... don't worry too much!
  9. Bake for around 20 minutes until the cornbread is golden on the edges and the center is firm to the touch. 
  10. Once you've determined it's done, flip it over and out of the skillet onto a cooling rack. Wait 5-10 minutes and eat up!

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