I’m not going to lie, I have only just started making cornbread. I am so sad that I hadn’t discovered it earlier. I was at a bar once out in the suburbs of New Orleans, listening to the most amazing 12-piece jazz group that could only just fit on the stage. During the half time break, I went outside for a breath of humid warm air (I love it) and across the road was a family with a setup of tables, paper plates and a whole lot of bain-maries. They were filled full of the most beautiful, traditional, Southern Style food. I was in absolute heaven. Instead of heading back in to watch the second set of the band I sat outside with a beer and chatted with them for hours. This was my first experience with Southern food. I guess it runs through the food world as ‘ugly delicious’. But when you start to understand ‘why’ then you start to understand that the food is no longer ‘ugly delicious’ but ‘soulfully delicious’.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
- 2 ½ cups Corn Meal or Polenta
- 1 ¾ cup Buttermilk (can use regular milk)
- ½ tsp Baking powder
- ½ tsp Bi-carbonate
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ½ cup + 2tbs of pan Ghee or lard or veg oil (melted if solid)
Place a 10 or 12-inch pan into your pre-heated oven at 220° C. It is important that this is searing hot as it will create an amazing crunch bottom and sides. If you don’t have a cast iron then a heavy based fry pan will work but be careful as it could stick.
Put everything into a bowl and mix until combined. Don’t work it too hard as you want the mixture to be slightly crumbly. This is a dryer style of bread so it really craves liquids as a topping.
Pull the pan out of the oven and onto your stove with an element on high to keep the temp of the pan. Add the reserved tablespoon of ghee, lard, or oil in the pan and let it start smoking.
Pour in the mixture (please be gentle not to splash yourself here) spread the mixture evenly with the back of a spoon or spatula. Let it cook for 1 minutes on the pan then place it in the oven for 12 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool in the pan. By letting the mixture cool, you are letting the bread set and become solid. This will mean the bread wont break or crack when transferred to a chopping board. I usually just leave the bread in the cast iron pan and cut wedges from there but this isn’t possible in a non-stick. So I will leave it up to you.
Serve wedges or strips, always have some butter, pickles, mustards and hot sauces on the side. Top the cornbread with salad. Have as many condiments as you like. Love a good condiment.