In honor of the new decade, new year, and my 24th year on this planet, Mademoiselle Amanda and I cooked a phenomenal feast. I was born and raised in Georgia, and despite my general disdain for most things brought to mind about the south, I still hold dear many of the traditions I grew up with. The vast majority of these traditions involve food--I love and relish in cooking southern food.
So for my next few posts I will entice you to visit the south, at least in your own kitchen, with the dishes I made for our traditionally southern New Year's Day feast.
Today's recipe: Cornbread!
Ingredients (vegetarian version--yes, there is a non-veg version that involves bacon*)
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp Crisco
3 tbsp butter
It is best to use a 9inch cast iron skillet for this recipe. However, any heavy duty pan that can go from stove top to oven will suffice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs and buttermilk till thoroughly incorporated.
On the stove top, melt the Crisco and butter over a low flame. Be very careful! Crisco gets extremely hot and should be handled with caution. While Crisco and butter are melting, make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg and buttermilk mixture. Stir till combined but do not over stir.
When the butter and Crisco are thoroughly melted, carefully add about 3/4 to the cornbread mixture. It will sizzle, so be careful while stirring it in. Once the Crisco is completely mixed in, pour the entire mixture back into the pan with the remaining grease.
Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Eat warm with more butter!
*If you aren't worried about feeding vegetarians, you can use bacon instead of butter and Crisco. Simply fry up about 8 slices of bacon in your cast iron skillet until crispy. Set the bacon aside, if you really want to go all out, you can crumble some of it to add to the batter before baking. Use the bacon grease in the pan to add to the mixture the same way you would with Crisco.
My poor mother slaved over creating the vegetarian version after my sister and I became vegetarians when we were kids. She finally discovered the perfect amount of fat to use in replacement of the bacon grease to keep the cornbread nice and moist. A million thanks to her for sacrificing her sanity and affinity for meat to keep my sister and I happy.