Classic Southern Cornbread
Created by Art Smith
To make good cornbread, you must have good cornmeal. What do I mean by that? It should have a coarse, sandy texture. Stone-ground cornmeal, available at natural food stores and many supermarkets, is best. Be sure the cornmeal is fresh, as it contains oils that can turn rancid easily. As a precaution, always store your cornmeal in the refrigerator (something Southern cooks rarely have to do, because they use up the cornmeal so quickly, it doesn't have a chance to turn on them). Use a well-seasoned, never-been-washed cast-iron skillet to make this bread.
Servings: Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups yellow or white cornmeal , preferably stoneground
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs , beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil , preferably sunflower, plus additional for the pan
Directions
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Generously oil a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or a 9-inch cake pan) and place it on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl to combine. Make a well in the center. Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and oil in another bowl until the eggs are well combined. Pour into the well and stir just until the batter is moistened — do not overbeat.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour in the batter. Bake until the bread springs back when pressed in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or serve directly from the skillet.

Variations
Roasted Tomato, Onions, and Cheddar Cornbread
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 coarsely chopped medium onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and oregano, and cook for 1 minute. Cool. Make the batter, stirring just until moistened and lumpy. Stir in the cooled vegetable mixture and 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (preferably a farm-style imported British Cheddar). Stir just until smooth. Spread in the hot skillet. Top the batter with 8 Oven-Roasted Tomatoes. Bake as directed above.

Fresh Corn, Chile, and Cheese Cornbread
Preheat the broiler. Broil 1 poblano chile, turning occasionally, until the skin is scorched. Cool. Remove the skin, ribs, and seeds, and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Make the batter, stirring just until moistened and lumpy. Stir in the chopped chile, 1 cup fresh corn, cut from the cob, husks reserved, 4 cooked and crumbled bacon strips, 1/2 cup shredded queso blanco or Monterey Jack cheese, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 teaspoon of chile powder. Stir just until smooth. Line the skillet with corn husks. Pour in batter. Bake as directed above.

From Back to the Table by Art Smith

Recommended ingredients:
Stoneground cornmeal can be purchased from:
Bradley's Country Store
10655 Centerville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
(805) 893-1647
www.bradleycountrystore.com

Nutritional Information
285 calories, 9.3 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 56 mg of cholesterol, 540 mg sodium, 42.3 grams carbohydrate, 7.7 grams protein, 2.9 grams fiber.

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