Tasty Tuesday, January 27

This week, we have a basic of Southern cooking, cornbread. The secret to perfect cornbread is an heirloom cast iron skillet. I have one that belonged to my Granny. Cast iron, properly seasoned is the original non stick cookware.
I have cooked this recipe so many times, I have it memorized.
Start off by taking a napkin or paper towel and rub a light coating of Crisco on the inside of the skillet. Preheat the oven with the skillet in it to 425 degrees.
In a bowl, combine:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbl baking powder
1-2 Tbl sugar (depends on how sweet you like your cornbread, I usually use a slightly heaping tablespoon)
1/4 tsp salt

In a 2 cup measuring cup:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
Beat until blended, then stir into dry mix.
Stir with a fork until mostly blended, there will still be a few lumps and it’s ok, over stirring will make for tough cornbread.

When the oven is heated, take the skillet out and pour in the mix. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a wooden pick inserted into the middle comes out clean…after a few times, you’ll figure out how your oven cooks and can just put in the time. Mine’s more toward 25 minutes.

All kinds of things can be added…I have used chopped jalapenos, the flavor spreads more evenly if you add them to the wet mix. Same goes for New Mexico chilis. I have used Southwest seasoning, added to the dry mix. Blue corn meal instead of the yellow adds a nuttier flavor but still cooks to a golden brown on top and is blue inside. A handful of shredded cheese can go in the dry mix. Cilantro is an interesting addition, the soapy flavor mostly cooks out of it and leaves a sweet, herbal flavor.

The basic recipe is the one on the Aunt Jemima Yellow Corn Meal bag.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, I’m sorry. Oddly enough, they seem to be found in Army/Navy stores. Or you can use a heavy aluminum skillet 10 inches wide with an oven-proof handle.
Be sure and Google how to season cast iron and never, ever scour it clean. It will rust.

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