Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grandpa's Cornbread

Happy Halloween to those who take part in the celebrations!

It's a rainy day here, rainy enough that Trick-or-Treating has been moved to tomorrow.  So tonight, we are staying in and having ham and beans, fried potatoes and my Grandpa's cornbread.

I tried for years, YEARS to make cornbread like my Grandpa did.  His was always crunchy on the outside and so moist and fluffy inside.  No matter what I tried or how many times, it was never right.  A couple of years before he passed, he decided to share his secret with me.  It involved a cast iron skillet.  Knowing my Grandparents, I should have known.  LOL.  

Normally, I make it in a square cast iron skillet but this time I used this one, just an 8" round, well seasoned skillet:

The ingredients are pretty simple too:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 +/- cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 can of cream corn
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

I have the butter cut like you see in the picture because the slices are to be melted in the microwave to be used in the batter and the other one is for the skillet.  You see, that is Grandpa's secret.  When you have all the ingredients out, you put 1/2 stick of butter (ok, Grandpa used a whole stick but dang, that's a lot of butter!) anyway, put it in the cold cast iron skillet.  Then, put the skillet in the oven and THEN set the oven for 400 degrees.  

Now you work on making the batter.  It's a simple "muffin method" to make it.  

I put all the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix them well.  I make a well in the center of the dry stuff, like in the picture on the left above.  I put the egg in the center and lightly beat it with the spoon, center pic.  Then I add the corn and milk.  Don't mix it yet.  I put the butter that was sliced in the glass measuring cup and melt it in the microwave.  (I try to dirty as few things as I can..LOL)  Once the butter is melted, I pour it in and lightly mix it.  Just until it comes together.  Don't beat it like a cake batter, just mix it.  

Let it rest for a minute or two.  

Check on the butter in the skillet.  

When the butter in the skillet is melted and looks like the picture on the left, you're good to go.  Put the batter quickly into the skillet.  You'll hear sizzling and the butter will rise up over the edges on the sides.  If you look closely, you can see the bubbly butter on the edge of the batter in the pic on the right.  THIS is how Grandpa got that wonderful crusty outside!

Bake it for 25 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven until done.  I use a toothpick inserted in the center to check to see if it is done.  If it comes out clean, it's ready!

See the crunchy edges?  Oh my word, that's the best part!  Back on track...I put a plate on top of it and flip the cornbread out of the skillet.  It's easier to do this if you have oven mitts.  If you don't use a couple of towels.  (Be VERY careful, that skillet is heavy and really hot!)  I do this because cast iron will stay hot for a good while and will continue cooking your cornbread.  

It looks like this on the bottom:

There you have it!  The best cornbread out there if I do say so myself!  Oh yea, the beans weren't bad either!

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