Recipe Time: Corn Bread

There are two keys to outstanding corn bread: cast iron and bacon.  They make all the difference in the taste and the texture.  Here’s how you do it:

Preheat a cast iron skillet in a hot oven -– 450 degrees.  Check to make sure you have a good oven mitt or, better, two good oven mitts.  Actually, you should do that before you preheat the oven.

Mix 2 cups of self-rising corn meal, ½ cup self-rising flour, and a little salt in a bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or a mixture of whole milk and buttermilk.  Add two mediums eggs, beaten, and stir.  If you want, you can mix in some diced jalapeño.

Make sure that no sugar gets anywhere near the mixture.

Remove the heated skillet from the oven.  Put ½ cup bacon fat in the hot skillet and return it to the oven. Let it re-heat for a few minutes.

Remove the hot skillet again and quickly pour most of the bacon fat into the cornmeal mixture and stir.  Leave enough of the fat in the skillet so that it has a nice coat on the bottom and the lower edges.

Pour in the cornmeal mixture and return the skillet to the oven for 20 minutes or so. When it’s done (i.e., golden brown) remove the corn bread from the oven and remove it from the skillet.  It should come out easily, all in one piece.  Put it on a plate, cut it, and serve it.

You can do this in a cast iron corn stick pan if you have one, but you will have to render the bacon fat in a separate pan.  You can’t pour grease from a hot corn stick pan without causing a mess.  Brush the wells for the corn sticks with some of the melted bacon fat and pour the rest into the corn meal mixture.  The corn stick pan maximizes the crispiness of each piece of corn bread.

Give it a try.

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