This Christmas was a bountiful one. In addition to some new casserole dishes and a seriously adored copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, my brother, who lives in Kansas, brought something extra special up to Montreal. Bundled up in his suitcase was 10 pounds of beautiful non-stick iron.
You know where I’m going with this. Just as the wrapping paper fell to the floor to reveal these beautiful pans, I was already thinking of all the kick-ass cornbread I was going to make. I’d heard the hype about – or rather necessity of – baking cornbread in a skillet, but had never tried it myself. I can proudly say I will never again stoop to the cake pan level. I am a changed woman.
Let me list but a few observations regarding my switch from pan to skillet. 1. The bread browns evenly on the bottom side of your loaf. 2. The top forms into gold-encrusted peaks of heavenly cornmeal. 3. The rich, smoky taste of bacon fat coats and lightly fries the outer surface of the bread. 4. The crumbly, moist texture is truly divine.
I’m going to assume that you readers will take my skillet advice and toss away the cake pans. If you are skillet-less, consider picking some up from your local cooking store – they can run as low as 30 bucks for a set of 3, and if taken care of, can last you a lifetime. These skillets also have natural non-stick properties and serve as a source of iron (ladies!) Essentially, when you heat the pan, the molecules expand and the pore spaces open up, allowing in oil. When the pan cools and the pore spaces shrink, the oil is trapped inside the pores. So, when you reheat the pan, this oil will be released again, hence the natural non-stick properties. The more you use the pans, the more you’ll build up a non-stick coating. Cool, huh?
If you still remain unconvinced and must resort to other cooking methods, keep me in the dark about it – I’m not sure my heart could take the blow.
And without further ado, here’s a music review!
These guys are producing some pretty rad psychedelic rock for my generation. This album features strong, primal vocals that are paired with funky percussion and synth (xylophones, clog shoes) and an airy, ethereal guitar. The result is a mind-bending, turbulent ride that commands every bit of your attention.
The night that I purchased the album, I was on my way home on the bus. On impulse, I hopped off the bus about halfway home and decided to walk. It was night, we’d had our first snowfall that day. I unhurriedly wandered along the canal, peering down from the bridge into the gaping locks while Connan Mockasin narrated the whole experience in my ears.
Upbeat, quirky—Megumi the Milkyway Above
Lazy, reflective— Faking Jazz Together
Just plain cool—It’s Choade My Dear
Unsweetened Skillet Cornbread
Adapted from A New Turn In the South by Hugh Acheson
2 cups yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 cup whole milk
1/2 whipping cream (sometimes I use sour cream)
1 large egg
1/4 cup bacon drippings
Preheat the oven to 425℉.
In a large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Make a well in the center and add the egg and milk and cream. Mix liquid with a fork, beating the egg into the milk, before fully incorporating into the dry ingredients.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat bacon drippings and coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. Cook until hot, but not smoking. Pour drippings into the cornmeal mixture and stir in immediately. Then, pour the mixture back into the skillet, flattening the top with a flexible spatula. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping it onto a cutting board. Serve warm, with assorted jams (I used sweet chili jam, tomato jam and mustard pickle jam to offset the savory cornbread with a bit of sweetness.)