I mention corn sticks from time to time here on the Blog. To be more specific, I mention them about every time I go to Eastern North Carolina, or when, as now, I’m planning an Eating Trip to North Carolina in April, and a second Eating and Beach Trip in July. Corn sticks are, more or less, a cousin of hot water corn bread: they are made with corn meal and no flour. Here is an example of the corn sticks from Parker’s in Wilson.
The outside is crunchy and the inside is soft and fairly dense. And they are delicious. Parker’s has the best corn sticks on earth, and they come with every meal. Well, you can get a mix of corn sticks and hush puppies, or you can even forgo the corn sticks and get all hush puppies, if you’re stark raving mad. They also serve great corn sticks at Bum’s in Ayden, which also has great, great collards, outstanding banana pudding, and the Best Eastern North Carolina Style Barbecue in the World.
Here, as a public service, is a recipe. It makes a dozen corn sticks, which is enough for four people or me.
- 2 cups water-ground cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 rounded tablespoon or so of bacon grease plus additional, to grease pan
Preheat oven to 450 F and grease a cornstick pan. Mix the dry ingredients before adding the eggs, milk, and the rounded tablespoon of bacon grease. Pour the batter into the molds and bake until brown — about 20 minutes.
I mentioned a mold. I’ve seen lots of cast iron molds for wider corn sticks or corn bread, the kind that are shaped like the imprint of an ear of corn and that are made with some flour — around four parts corn meal and one part flour. These pans produce delicious corn sticks, but with a lower proportion of that heavenly outside crunch.
The magical corn sticks at Parker’s and Bum’s are, as you can tell from the photo of corn sticks above, much narrower. I haven’t been able to find the narrower molds. If you know of a source, please post a comment.
UPDATE: Thanks to Mr. Tommy Haddock, the mystery is solved! The correct mold,, Mr. Haddock informs us, is a Griswold #22. Details here. And John Shelton Reed reports that Wagner Ware also made a pan used in making corn sticks.
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