Cornbread can fall into many categories….the good, the bad, dry or moist, sweet or not, yellow or white. This recipe for “Black Skillet Cornbread”, from the new cook book “Skillet Love” by New York Times Best Selling Cookbook author Anne Byrn, published by Grand Central Publishing, is in my opinion, simply “the best cornbread” I have ever eaten. I always hesitate to declare anything “the best” as that concept is full of conflict in that my best might not be yours. I take exception to my rule and challenge you to make it and see if you agree or not. The recipe itself is part of the deliciousness, but the key “ingredient” is the cast iron skillet in which it is cooked.
“Skillet Love” has more than 150 recipes, from “steak to cake” all baked, charred, roasted, fried, grilled and browned in a 12 inch seasoned cast iron skillet. Did you know that you can quickly make a pound cake in cast iron? How about the crispiest crust pizza ever? A whole roasted hen along with vegetables? These recipes, the history of cast iron cookware, how to season a new cast iron skillet as well as how to keep your old one in great shape is all to be found between the pages of this delightful book. Beautiful photography by Danielle Atkins, lively prop styling by Jessie Pickren and the food styling by me and Anne.
When asked what is my go-to cooking pan, I always reply it is my much loved and cared for cast iron skillet that belonged to my Grandmother on my Mother’s side who I never met. It is old and shiny black with a beautifully seasoned finish. It has moved along with me in life, it has pleased me when life was not so pleasing and has cooked many tasty upside down cakes and crispy breads, never failing to satisfy. It is just a cast iron skillet, a material object, but it has a life of stories within. I have added many cast iron pieces to my collection of pots and pans over the years. Some of my favorites come from Lodge Cast Iron which is made right here in Tennessee. Lodge was the perfect skillet for this most perfect of cornbreads.
The “sizzle” is the key to success when baking cornbread. Placing the skillet, with oil, in a cold oven then turning it to 450 degrees and leaving the skillet until it is very, very hot and the oil is “shimmering” before adding the batter is how to get the crusty goodness. Be patient. This can take a few minutes, which is when you can gather and measure out your ingredients. Maybe have a sip of wine or a cup of tea. Just be patient…see that sizzle?
A couple of things before we get to the recipe. Good cornmeal is also a key to making good cornbread. There are so many varieties on the market that it can be confusing when shopping. White, yellow, stone ground, rough, smooth, self rising or plain? I used Anne’s favorite cornmeal from “The Old Mill”. Their white self rising cornmeal can be bought from their online shop. It is stone ground, silky and grainy at the same time and makes a great skillet of cornbread as you can see.
This is how we ate it yesterday…a hot bowl of tomato soup topped with shredded Gruyere.
If you live in Tennessee you cannot get much more local than this cookbook. The author, the photographer, the prop stylist and I all live in Nashville. Lodge Cast iron is made in South Pittsburgh, TN. The Old Mill cornmeal is ground in Pigeon Forge, TN. Bon Appetit.
Black Skillet Cornbread
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease or veg oil
- 1 3/4 cups self-rising white cornmeal
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup veg oil
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat buttermilk
- 1 to 4 tablespoons water (optional)
- Add bacon grease or veg oil in a 12 inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Whisk together the cornmeal and flour. Stir in the oil and buttermilk until smooth. If batter is too thick, thin it with the water.
- When oven comes to temperature, remove the skillet and pour in the batter. It should sizzle. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cornbread is deeply browned, 12 to 17 minutes.
- If need be, run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the cornbread out onto a cutting board, bottom-side up. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut into wedges.
Recipe used with permission, from the cookbook “Skillet Love” by Anne Byrn.
13 thoughts on “We all need a little “Skillet Love”….Cornbread”
Well, this is an interesting concept for a book! Are there a good variety of recipes? I mean, we’ve all made cornbread in a skillet, right?! Or am I just old and have been cooking a really long time!
Hi Mimi, yes we all should be making our cornbread in a cast iron skillet, but there might be a few who do not…pity them! I “am” old and have been cooking a long time as well, but have used cast iron since I started cooking. For years I didn’t realize there were other skillets to cook in having grown up in the South. The variety of recipes are amazing…I can’t wait to make the pound cake for the Holidays. Who knew? It was such fun and so informative working on this project. I thought I knew lots about cast iron but I learned so much and am pretty addicted to this recipe for cornbread. It is exactly like my paternal Grandmothers which I loved.
I also like the pizza recipe very much, the roasted chicken is to die for not to mention the roasted butternut squash with lavender honey.
Thanks so much for stopping by. T
I was never really a cornbread lover till Teresa made this one
What else can I say (-:
It is quite an accomplishment if I do say so…converting a Dutchman to loving cornbread…thanks to Anne’s recipe for that!
I love cornbread cooked in a cast-iron frying pan. I also use my grandmother’s, and it is the perfect pan for the job. The key really is the preheating of the pan.
Thanks Dorothy for stopping by and yes, as I found out the hard way, the key is the pre-heating of the pan! Best regards, Teresa
We all find out the hard way!
My Mom gave me a 12″ cast iron skillet when I left home (that was back in the 1970s) and until recently (about 2 years ago) it was the only large skillet I ever had. And it was the same as my Mom always used, but we’re not even from the South…we’re from the Midwest where I think they are just as popular. Over the years, I’ve added other cast iron pieces, some bought, some thrift store finds, and some have been gifted. Unfortunately, my big “OG” 12 inch is getting too heavy for me!
It looks like a fun book! I know I would enjoy just about anything from Tennessee – what a food culture you have with so much classic and a lot of “revival” going on!
Yes it is a fun book with lots of new ideas on using a cast iron skillet….I learned so much while working on this project that I have started using my cast-iron…heavy as it is….all the time….again. Such a nice thought that you have the skillet that was given to you by your Mom…pass it on. And, the midwest is also a bastion of cast-iron cooking and quite a few brands originated in the midwest as well. The history in this book is one of the best parts…aside from the pizza! Thanks for stopping by.
I just bought my boyfriend a cast iron skillet for Christmas and almost got him this cookbook to go with it but ended up going with one from America’s Taste Kitchen instead. Looks like I might need to add this one to the library too though, or try out this recipe at the very least. I’ve always been a huge fan of cornbread (always dry, never sweet) so that will definitely be one of the first things we try in the new skillet – Thanks for the post!
I too have my grandma’s cast iron skillet & cornbread recipe. The hot oil is the trick to the crunch. I also use that skillet in the summer on the grill for roasted potatoes & Brussels sprouts – soooo good!