Cornbread should be made in cast iron. Make it in an aluminum skillet and we’ll revoke your South card. My recipe and hunk of iron date back 150 years to my great grandmother, Mama Wiggins. The secret is to heat up butter in the skillet first (creating the original non-stick surface), then add the cornbread batter. The result: golden brown perfection.
Here’s the recipe that most approximates my great-grandmothers. This is from my second cookbook, Off the Eaten Path, Second Helpings, and comes from one of my all-time favorite restaurants—The Farmer’s Daughter in Chuckey, Tennessee:
1 1/2 cups stone-ground white cornmeal 1/2 cup all purpose soft-wheat flour 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and divided 1 large egg
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in oven ten minutes.
2. Stir together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, half of butter, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
3 Pour remaining half of melted butter into hot skillet; pour batter into skillet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cornbread pulls away from sides of skillet. Makes 8 servings.