September 3, 2009

Buttermilk Cornbread

Buttermilk Cornbread with honey and butter along with a plate of greens.

If you're looking for the Breakfast of Champions, this is it: Buttermilk Cornbread and a mess of greens. I'm currently validating recipes for my Thanksgiving Dinner classes at Kookoolan Farms, so I needed to make some cornbread.

The best cornbread is made in a cast iron skillet. This recipe is for a 10" skillet.

Buttermilk Cornbread

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat (or canola oil)
1½ cups white cornmeal (or yellow)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup canola oil
1½ cups cultured buttermilk
1 large egg
Start by preheating your oven to 450°F/230°C. Once it's ready, add the bacon fat to the skillet and put it into the oven to preheat. You'll want to give the pan at least 10-15 minutes to get hot, so take your time.

Whisk all the dry ingredients together until well mixed and any lumps of baking soda have disappeared. The small amount of sugar in this recipe isn't enough to sweeten the bread, but if you're in the "No Sugar in Cornbread!" camp, or cooking for someone who is, leave it out.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the wet ingredients, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until they just come together. Remove the hot pan from the oven--the bacon fat should be smoking slightly. Carefully pour the batter into the pan, then put the pan back into the oven.

Bake for 18 minutes or so, until the bread is set and slightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool about five minutes.

Buttermilk Cornbread with butter being drizzled with honey

Serve the cornbread hot. It's traditionally served with butter and honey. If you want some for breakfast, be sure you hide what you'll need before serving or there won't be any leftovers.

You can freeze the bread after it cools. That's a good thing, because you can make two or three batches and freeze them to make into Cornbread Dressing for Thanksgiving.

Now, if you want that mess of greens to go with it, here's what I did. I went to the garden and thinned out the beets, kale, chard, and collards. Then I cut the less attractive parts off a slab of bacon I made for the Ruhlman BLT Challenge. The bacon went into a large skillet with several cloves of garlic confit and some of the oil. While the bacon rendered over medium heat I chopped some Walla Walla Sweet onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper. Those went into the pan to sauté. After rinsing the greens and checking for bugs, I chopped them roughly, stems and all, and threw them into the pan. After about 10 minutes of stirring, everything was done. Leftover cornbread went into the microwave for 1 minute, and breakfast was served. No, I didn't skip the seasoning step. There's no need to add any salt or pepper.

Ladies, you should have greens every day if possible. They are an excellent source of calcium and iron. Guys, it's got bacon in it. If you start your day with a nice mess of greens, you won't need to waste money on vitamin tablets.


  1. Gareth,
    This looks scrumptious! I am making that cornbread today. I love the fact that you have butter melted with a drizzle of honey. SWEET!!!!

  2. Thanks, Deborah. It's very good, and really quite simple to make. If you have access to White Lily flour, use ½ cup of that instead of the ¼ cup plus 2 T of a-p flour and you'll get a more authentic flavor.

  3. I made this recipe twice over the 2009 holidays and it was a big hit. My niece loved making it with me. I used 2T oil (from leftover chicken). Yummy!