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You’ve probably had cornbread from one of those boxes of cornbread mix at the store. Maybe you’ve even had some from a BBQ place that had jalapeños in them. They’re usually as sweet as a slice of cake and just as moist. While those types of cornbread biscuits absolutely have their place, I grew up eating a very different kind of cornbread. This kind is made (like most things down south) in a cast iron skillet. Rather than being as sweet as cake it’s much more savory and even spicy if you add the spice in like I prefer. Either way, you’ll never regret taking a step outside what you’re used to and trying cornbread the way that it’s been made since the 1800’s. In fact, you might never make it another way again.
Southern Cast Iron Cornbread:
1 Tbsp bacon drippings
2 cups white cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 egg (optional)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Preheat pan with bacon drippings: Put the bacon drippings in a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet inside. (If you don’t have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)
2 Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar if using) in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg (if using) and buttermilk until combined, then mix that into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.
3 Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet. Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
4 Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10-30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.