After all the moaning and whining I've done about southern versus northern cornbread, I thought it was time to put up or shut up. So for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging, which I'm hosting this week, I'm making Southern Cornbread with Bacon and Jalapeno. Technically, my herb is jalapeno but technically Kalyn says WHB is about featuring any herb, spice, or plant. And since jalapenos are basically a seasoning or condiment...right? Of course, when I was growing up, bacon could also be considered a seasoning or condiment. Like Emeril says, pork fat does indeed rule. At our house it did, anyway.
My loyalty to white cornbread is from memories. At my grandmother's, "Nannie" to me, there was always always always an omelet pan of white cornbread. Always white. Always an omelet pan. Always on the table. Always at "dinner time". Instead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, my Nannie ate breakfast, dinner, and supper. Dinner, lunch to us, when company came, was a table groaning under platters of Coca-cola BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, fried green tomatoes and fresh sliced juicy red tomatoes both from the garden, home-made pickles, and tall glasses of iced tea, although we did not/do not drink our tea sweet. Supper to Nannie, more days than not, was a glass of milk with the crumbled leftovers of the cornbread, eaten with a spoon.
This is me and my Nannie at her birthday party just a year or two ago.
Nannie "baked" cornbread on top of the stove. I have no idea where she got this trick but she's been doing it all of my life that I remember. She poured the cornbread mix into a greased omelet pan and baked it on the stove over a low flame, flipping it when the first side was about 2/3 done. No measurements. No timing. It was all done from habit and sight. To this day, that crescent-shaped white cornbread symoblizes my family's love for Nannie more than any other dish you can put on the table.
Nannie's White Cornbread with Bacon and Jalapeno
(I admit this is sort of my version that has evolved from Nannie's, especially with the addition of the jalapeno)
4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled, drippings retained
1 jalapeno, very finely minced or 1 Tbsp jalapeno juice from the jar
1 1/2 cups white corn meal (I use Bob's Red Mill or Hodgson Mill)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar (mellows the acidic, doesn't make it sweet)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk or soured milk (Soured milk = 1 Tbsp white vinegar and then fill the rest of the measuring cup up with milk)
1. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl and wet ingredients together in separate bowl (except bacon, drippings, and jalapeno).
2. Pour wet ingredients into dry mix and stir quickly and the least amount possible until ingredients are just barely blended. Stir in bacon crumbles, drippings, and jalapeno.
3. Pour half of batter into a cooking spray-ed omelet pan and cook over a low flame for about 15 minutes or until the edges of the bread start to dry. Flip the cornbread over and cook for another 10 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.
Makes 2 batches. I usually freeze the second one to have later.
**This, of course, can also be baked in a 9" cast iron skillet at 375 degrees (pre-heat the skillet in the oven) for about 25-30 minutes or until the bread is nicely browned.
**I usually fry the bacon directly in the omelet pan or skillet and use that as the greasing of the pan.
**Have you ever noticed that the absolute hardest recipes to write down instructions to are the ones you're so familiar with that you never quite do it the exact same way twice. You feel like you do it the same way until you go to write it down and then you're constantly thinking "Well I normally do it this way but occasionally I do it this way" or "Well you could do this or this will work too or...."
For those who have asked, here's what an omelet pan looks like. To purchase, you can find them at Wal-mart or JcPenney to name two outlets. For the link to JC Penney, click HERE.