Chef James L. from Tennessee points out that true Southern Cracklin’ corn bread is made from white corn bread, ideally White Lily if you can find it. Yellow will work too, of course, but for that extra touch of authenticity, well, you know what to do.
Like all truly great things to eat, this is extremely simple. Start by preheating your oven to 450, and measuring out your (room temperature) ingredients. Add a tablespoon or so of bacon drippings or lard or butter to a 10-inch cast iron skillet:
Put the pan in the oven to heat while you make up your batter (you only want it there for a couple of minutes, so the fat doesn’t burn). Whisk together the dry ingredients:
Next, whisk together the wet ingredients:
Combine the two…
…and whisk until incorporated.
Lastly, whisk in the cracklings.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour in the batter. It will sizzle a bit. Turn down the heat to 350 and bake for 25 minutes until golden. Flip the bread out of the pan so the crispy side is up. Slice into wedges and serve.
What’s a great use for cracklings? Brothers and sisters, here’s one of the best: cracklin’ corn bread. Talk about a definitively southern bread, this one has it all: lard, corn, buttermilk. Pleasantly coarse and rustic, you’d have found southerners eating something almost exactly like this 150 years ago. To give it that extra country flare, make it in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet.
9 ounces (2 cups) cornmeal (ideally White Lily white corn meal, but yellow will do)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup cracklings
1 tablespoon lard, butter or bacon drippings
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Once the oven is hot, put the tablespoon of fat into the skillet and put the skillet in the oven to heat. Meanwhile, mix up your batter. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in another bowl, then combine the wet and dry ingredients, whisking just until combined. Lastly, whisk in the cracklings. Remove the pan from the oven and pour in the batter, it will sizzle appealingly. Turn the heat down to 350 and return the pan to the oven. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. When baked, flip the bread out of the pan so the crispy crust faces up. Slice into wedges and serve, with a drizzle of honey if desired.