The mystery of making Eastern North Carolina Corn Sticks is now solved, thanks to Mr. Tommy Haddock of Clayroot, North Carolina. Mr. Haddock gave me the answer back in June, and I should have posted about it before.
Clayroot is the home of Haddock’s Barbecue, which I presume was first opened by relatives of Mr. Haddock. They’re open for breakfast and lunch every day but Sunday, but only serve barbecue on Saturday. I haven’t been there yet, but I definitely plan to go. Clayroot is in Pitt County, the epicenter of great Eastern North Carolina barbecue, and it’s just down the road from Ayden, home of both Bum’s and the Skylight Inn. But let’s get back to corn sticks.
First, lt’s restate the problem, for those new to corn sticks, also known as the Food of the Gods. Corn sticks are a type of corn bread made with no flour, only corn meal, and cooked in a cast iron mold that, having been covered with bacon grease like any self-respecting cast iron mold, produces a very thin … corn stick. Here are some at Parker’s, where they are really, really good.
How do they get that thin? Clearly, you need a mold. But what mold? If you do an internet search for “corn stick molds” you get these molds that give you a stick of corn bread that look like and ear of corn.
Wonderful as it can be, however, a stick of corn bread is a distant cousin of the corn stick. Cornbread stick molds cannot create the crispness that marks an Eastern North Carolina Corn Stick. What you need, Mr. Haddock informs us, is a Griswold #22.
That’s one on the right. It unhelpfully shows the exterior side, not the cooking side, but you get the idea. I’m not sure what the smaller model is.
An internet search brought up numerous opportunities for you to buy a Griswold #22, the first of which was from Etsy.
I’ll have to think a while before buying a Griswold #22. There are some things that I am better off not knowing how to make at home, things like pecan pie, and corn sticks may well be at the top of that list. Also, we’re running out of space to store pans. UPDATE: John Shelton Reed reports that Wagner Ware also made a similar cast iron pan, so expand your search accordingly.
Haddock’s Barbecue is now run by the Foys, Scott and Kim, who first met at Haddock’s. It was love at first sight, or at least strong interest at first sight, and they courted and married. WNCT 9 has a nice piece on their story. You should watch it.
Haddock’s facebook page shows some fine-chopped barbecue, some good looking barbecued chicken and fried chicken, and some really good looking vegetables, especially the butter beans.
I definitely plan to go to Haddock’s next time I’m anywhere close. I think a barbecue and fried chicken plate with two or three vegetables would be just the ticket. And I want to track down Mr. Tommy Haddock and thank him for the tip about the Griswold #22. If you get there before me, I hope you’ll thank him, too.