Thursday, July 5, 2012

Outdoor Cooking USA - Day 5, Mississippi

         In the USA, we've known about and eaten cornbread since arrival of the Europeans. The native Americans learned early on how to dry and grind corn into corn meal. When they mixed it with eggs and corn flour, the easiest and simplest of cornbreads could be made. Even though very thin, dense, and flat, it was just the way to transport healthy food for long distances over periods of time without all the weight. This is the main reason cornbread became so popular during the civil war. Elsewhere in the world, you can almost always find some form of cornbread wherever corn is harvested for food. 
Cornbread is such an old favorite... It is great served with anything! 


1 cup buttermilk (or 7 ounces of milk + 1 ounce vinegar or lemon juice, mixed and left to sit for about 30 minutes until curdled. If you're in a hurry, mix the milk and vinegar or lemon juice and microwave it for 20-30 seconds on high power.)
1 large egg
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder (if you're at high altitude, use 1 teaspoon baking powder, else the cornbread will rise too high, then fall)
1-1/2 tablespoons of bacon drippings or vegetable oil

3/4 cup whole kernel corn  or creamed corn (optional)
1/2-3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar (optional )
1-4 finely chopped jalapeno or chile peppers, no seeds (optional)
2 cloves finely minced garlic (optional)
  • Pour drippings or oil into an  a 10 inch dutch-oven or a 9-inch square baking pan. Heat dutch oven until oil is smoking hot.
  • While pan is heating, mix dry ingredients and any of the optional ingredients in medium-sized bowl. Beat egg into buttermilk. Add liquids to dry mixture, just until blended. Do not overmix! Carefully
  • remove the smoking pan from fire and pour cornbread batter into pan. If the oil is properly hot, then the batter will sizzle as it hits the oil. (This sizzle is what makes a nice, crunchy bottom crust.)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes on warm coals, or until the top crust is golden brown. Cut into wedges. Serve with butter or margarine.

Note 1: The batter will begin to rise as soon as the liquid and dry ingredients are mixed, so mix them right before you remove the hot dutch oven from the fire.

Note 2: If you use a 12" or larger round cast-iron skillet or dutch oven instead of the 9"or 10" ones, you should double the recipe without doubling the oil. If you don't double the recipe for the 10" skillet, your cornbread will be very thin.

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