Mamaw's Southern Skillet cornbread:
- 2-3 Tbs bacon drippin's (ok, butter, oil, shortening, lard - pick your poison, but bacon drippin's are free and no better or worse than any other fat. Just save it in a cup when you cook bacon. If you use it every day, it sits on the counter-top. If not, refrigerate it.)
- 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (Home-grind popcorn, dent or flint corn or you can even use store-bought cornmeal - though it's not as good as the freshly-ground stuff!)
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Baking SODA (NOT baking POWDER! I thought my former husband nuts when he told me his grandma made cornbread with soda instead of powder - until I tried this recipe.)
- 1 egg, beaten (or egg substitute or flax seen & water, gelatin & water, or whatever you'd sub out for the egg.)
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (fresh, powdered buttermilk, powdered milk or regular milk that you sour. If you sour your own, you need to reconstitute powdered milk first, sour it and THEN mix it in.) (To sour milk, put 1 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar into the bottom of a measuring cup. Fill to the one cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5 mins.) You can NOT use plain milk - the bread won't rise! I really don't think you can mix the lemon/vinegar into water and mix the milk powder into the dry ingredients and then mix both as directed. I think you need to sour the milk itself and then add it in. But you're welcome to try it and let me know how it works.
Put the drippin's in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Ok, muffin tin works, so does a 8"-9" cake pan - square or round, 10" pie plate may work (or it may overflow.) My skillet is a 12", we like cornbread, so I just double this recipe so I don't have bread that's only 2" high. (Don't double the grease.) Preheat your oven to 400, then put the pan you're using with the grease in it in the oven for about 3-5 mins. You want the pan good and hot, but if you're using butter, don't burn it! Mix the dry ingredients together, the wet ingredients together, then pour wet into dry and stir together. Since there's no flour in this, you don't have to worry about over-mixing it.
Remove the hot pan from the oven. USE POTHOLDERS, that puppy is HOT! (You don't really want to know how I know this is true!) Swirl the melted fat around to coat the pan, being careful not to get too vigorous with the swirlin' and burn yourself. (sigh) Immediately pour the batter into the hot pan - it will sizzle. It's supposed to - that's why we preheated the pan. Put that bad boy back into the hot oven.
Bake a 9" pan about 20-25 minutes, muffins for about 15-20 minutes and a doubled batch about 25-30 minutes, or until the cornbread is a golden brown and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out with no crumbs on it.
Remove from oven and immediately place a dinner plate over the top of the cast iron pan and then invert both, being careful not to burn yourself. (Yep, done that too.) Set the plate on a counter-top or table (make sure that little hands can't reach the HOT pot!) Gently lift the edge of the pan, making sure the cornbread is releasing from the pan. If it doesn't, just leave the up-side-down pan on the plate for a couple of minutes. The heat from the bread will rise upward, causing the bread to release and drop gently onto the plate. Don't leave it on too long, you don't want the bread to get soggy and lose that nice crust.
Cut the bread however you see fit. I cut mine into 8 wedges - but then I'm feeding a teenage boy. I'd cut a 9" square pan into 9 pieces.
Now to make corn dawgs (that would be corn dogs) to the rest of you. (man, I've been in GA too long!)
- Preheat your little sandwich maker. The one that makes your sandwich into triangles. Don't have one of those? Then use a cast iron "corn stick" pan. If you don't have one of those, you'll either have to use a muffin tin - in which case you'll have too much batter to dog, but you can still bake it; or put 1/2 of the batter into the hot pan like for cornbread, place hot dogs like spokes of a wagon wheel and then cover with rest of the batter. If I were doing this option, I would butterfly the hot dogs and I wouldn't make a double batch of cornbread in the same skillet - unless I was short on funds. In which case, I'd probably double the batter and cut the hot dogs into pennies and sprinkle over 1/2 the batter, then cover with the rest of it. Normally you want a thin layer of batter, not "hot dog- stuffed cornbread" - unless you do. lol Lastly, you could break down and fry them on a stick like normal people.
- Make your batter like your were making cornbread.
- DRY OFF the hot dogs VERY well! They have to be good and dry, otherwise, the batter slides right off of 'em. You might even try coating them with dry cornmeal or flour before trying to batter them.
- For frying: Skewer the hot dogs onto a stick. Dip the hot dogs in the batter to coat them. Lift gently out of the batter and proceed to fry in deep, hot fat. You can try pan frying them, but I think you'll lose the coating on it that way and it'll stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Sandwich maker or corn stick pan: pour a little batter into the bottom sections, place a hotdog into the center of each section and cover with a little more batter. Trial and error will tell you how much to use, but if I remember correctly, it was 2 Tbs for the bottom and 2 for the top. Close your sandwich maker and let bake.
- Muffin tin: Fill the muffin tin 1/3 full of batter. Place cut-up hot dog "pennies" into the batter, or cut the hot dogs into 3rds and stick into the batter. You may be able to get a couple of 3rds into each cup. Cover with another 1/3 of batter - so the pan isn't more than about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 mins at 400.
- You can try dipping the hot dogs like for frying and then placing them onto a cookie sheet and baking. Me thinketh the batter will ooze off of the dogs. You can try shorting the buttermilk a couple of tablespoons and seeing if that makes a difference in the batter's ability to stay put without making the finished bread too dry.