Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tasty Sides: Southern Skillet Corn Bread

In college, one of my closest friends was always talking about these aunts and uncles that weren't actually related. I was totally confused since I grew up in a town where every relative lived within a five mile radius. There were so many of us, I didn't even know all of them and was often introduced to new cousins in random places such as the local Safeway or the country club.

However, for all the cousins roaming Old Town, I was essentially a girl in a family of boys and I needed some other girls in my life. Case in point, I was nearly kicked out of preschool for wrestling with (and/or beating up - potay-to/potah-to) all the boys. Years later, I became the fourth generation to attend Georgetown Visitation, an all girl's high school, and it was there that my journey in making and maintaining lifelong friendships began. I left home at 18 to go to college in New York where I stayed and met the hubby and had baby girl. And I'm still here, raising a family in a city without any relatives. And so my friendships have taken on a new meaning: that of family.

And finally, with baby girl in my life, I understand why my friend has aunts and uncles who aren't blood. They aren't related, but they have had an effect nearly as strong. Baby girl calls certain people aunt and uncle because it feels right and as long as I'm raising my family apart from my greater family and even if I'm ever lucky enough to live among them again, baby girl will still have many more aunties and uncles than the hubby and I have brothers and sisters.

Among the auntie and uncle contingent, there are two couples with whom the hubby and I share nearly everything. One perk is that one of them, B, my husband's oldest friend, is an incredible cook. If anyone should be writing a blog, B should... about his barbecue. This past weekend the six of us adults and four children went to B and his wife, A's, house for a Southern feast of pulled pork with two different barbecue sauces, cole slaw and baked beans. I provided corn bread and dessert (St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake - recipe to come on Thursday).

Corn bread is one of those breads that is so easy to make, but is often dry and overly sweet. So, when tasked with making it, I studied just about every recipe I could find and was most inspired by the Tennessee Locavore, a blog I'm now frequenting. Thank you, TL! I change the recipe a bit, deciding to use only cornmeal, double the salt and switch out the sugar for honey. The result was a light, moist and somewhat crumbly corn bread that is a perfect accompaniment to barbecue as well as chilis and stews. It's so good, I even like it on its own with a pat of butter and a swirl of honey. Enjoy!

Southern Skillet Corn Bread
(This is the lightest, freshest corn bread I've ever made and I credit the cornmeal I bought at the farmer's market. To get a noticeable corn flavor, I recommend buying the freshest stone ground corn meal you can. If you can't find local, fresh cornmeal then adding a tablespoon or two of honey will help greatly.)

What You'll Need:

2 cups Stone Ground Corn Meal
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1-2 tbsp Honey (optional)
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk
1 large Egg
1/4 Vegetable Oil
1/3 stick butter

Place a 9 inch cast iron skillet in the oven and set the oven to 375. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together the wet ingredients in a small bowl.

Once the oven is heated, remove the skillet and add the butter. Put the skillet back in the oven. The butter should be melting and bubbling, but not burning.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just until combined. Do not over mix - a few lumps is just fine. Remove the skillet from the oven and quickly pour the corn bread batter into the skillet. Return to the oven and cook until golden brown on top. About 20-25 minutes.

Approximate Dinner Cost:
Groceries: $5
Cost per Meal: This fed 6 adults and two children.

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  1. OMG! How you made me hungry! I love cornbread but never thought to use buttermilk. I'll try your recipe tonight. Thanks!

  2. Oh Alexandra, do tell me how it goes! I hope you love it as much as I do.

  3. I can't approve of any sugar or honey in the recipe, but well done on heating the skillet. That sure makes a difference in the crust texture.

  4. We live far from family, too, and depend on our friends to help us raise our children. It's so nice to have a place where you can drop off and not worry!

  5. Frugal Kiwi - Agreed as far as the sugar or honey goes. I didn't need any in mine since the cornmeal was so fresh and corny, but sometimes a bit of honey adds a nice dimension.

    Unplanned Cooking - Aren't you just so grateful for good friends??

  6. This looks wonderful! My mother in law loves cornbread, so maybe i will make this. do you have any suggestions for egg substitutes and/or buttermilk substitues? I am pretending to be a vegan this month.
    Love Aunt dd

  7. I love cornbread but have never attempted it. Might change my mind now - this recipe looks easy and sounds delish!
    PS I have to admit that many times, friends are a good/preferred alternative to family :)

  8. After seeing Peggy's latest posts, I'm thinking we should lunch chez her instead of wasting our time on NYC restaurants. Comfort food reigns!

  9. Hee hee, after Sheryl's comment about tasters, I should have you over for a tasting!!

    Aunt DD - I wish I knew the conversions for vegan corn bread, but alas I do not. I'll will look around and see if I find anything that might work for you.

  10. that bread looks delish, and i love the addition of buttermilk, too. i bet it adds a bit of zip to the recipe...look forward to test driving this one on the family.

  11. I love making cornbread too. I've never done it in a skillet before. This looks like a great recipe to try.

  12. OOOH! It's gluten free! I'm all over this one.



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