It’s actually the skillet, not the cornbread, that was my grandma’s.
My mom recently cleaned out the garage, which is actually a pretty common occurrence. How could they need to clean it so often? I think it’s more of a Saturday afternoon activity than a necessity. Either that, or they have an enormous amount of crap in their garage. Which actually sounds about right, too, so who knows.
This time, she found a cast iron pot that belonged to my grandma, and she asked if I wanted it. It just so happens I’ve been wanting a cast iron skillet for some time now, so I jumped at the chance to have a pre-seasoned, old antique pot. It’s pretty awsome:
How much do you love that Little House on the Prairie wire handle thingy? That is priceless to me.
This pot is well-seasoned since my grandma made pot roast in it for about 50 years. I figured I would start small (especially since I don’t really cook meat) and try some southern skillet cornbread. Even though it’s technically not a skillet.
I found a great traditional recipe on Epicurious, which is what I used. The most fun part was that you heat the pot up first, while you are making the batter, and then you actually use the pot to melt the butter. Two birds with one stone: you melt your butter and you butter your pan all in one fell swoop. And it feels very pioneer days.
The result of preheating and buttering the pot is that you get a cornbread that has a nice crispy crust on the outside. Fabulous.
Southern Skillet Cornbread
Preheat oven to 425°F. Put a dry, well-seasoned 9- to 9 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet in middle of oven to heat. (My pot happens to be 10″, and it worked just fine.)
Stir together cornmeal, baking soda, and salt, crushing any small bits of baking soda. Whisk eggs in another bowl until blended and whisk in buttermilk.
Remove hot skillet from oven carefully and add butter, swirling gently to coat bottom and sides of skillet. (If butter begins to sizzle and brown around edges, so much the better.) Place pan back in oven in 30 second intervals to speed up the melting process.
Once the butter is melted, whisk hot butter into buttermilk mixture and return skillet to oven. Stir cornmeal into buttermilk mixture just until moistened. (The batter doesn’t have to be smooth—a few small lumps are good.)
Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert skillet over a platter and cool bread at least 3 minutes.