Slathered with butter and eaten with barbecue, fried fish, or any style of slow-simmered vegetable; crumbled into bowls of pot likker left over from boiled peas or greens; used to make all types of stuffings—skillet cornbread is one of the backbones of Southern cookery, from the mountains of West Virginia to the bayous of Louisiana. I can recall a time when no dinner was considered respectable without a big skillet of soft cornbread, and even today it’s still a staple at church suppers, at home-style cafés and restaurants, and in even the most elegant dining rooms. I’ve eaten skillet cornbread from one end of the Confederacy to the other, but none (including my own mother’s) can equal this miraculous version using water-ground yellow cornmeal (and no flour!), prepared almost daily by a close friend and transplanted Mississippi native now living in North Carolina. “The secret,” says Ann, “is not just the cornmeal but the quantity of bacon grease and the blazing hot cast-iron skillet.” Of course, finding water-ground cornmeal these days is a challenge, but I must say that batches of this cornbread made with regular yellow cornmeal are nothing to sneeze at.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt and stir till well blended. Add the eggs and buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon till well blended and smooth. In a
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.