This is my recipe for good, old-fashioned Southern cornbread. Cornbread is not really a Northern or a Southern thing per se, but from what I have seen, they just make it a little bit differently from each other. Most Southerners make their cornbread in a hot iron skillet with little or no sugar. However, Northerners make theirs in a pan, and it usually is a sweeter bread.
However you may like it, this is my version of my mother’s Southern cornbread recipe. I have changed it a little bit over the years, but it is mostly the same recipe.
One things I had to change were the ingredients. In the south, you can find self-rising cornmeal mix which already has the self-rising ingredients in it. However, in the north where I live now, you can’t find it. So, I have to buy cornmeal and add the self-rising ingredients to it myself so it will rise. I will include both recipes so you can make it with either regular cornmeal or cornmeal mix depending on what is sold near you.
Place 1/4 cup of bacon grease into a 10 inch iron skillet. Place into an oven and preheat to 425°. In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients of cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix together until incorporated. Add egg, milk and 1/4 cup of melted bacon grease. Stir together until smooth.The most important step to this cornbread is to make sure the skillet is very hot. When the oven is preheated and the skillet is very hot, remove the skillet from the oven and check to see if the grease is hot enough. If you are unsure, what I do is get my hand wet in the sink, stand back from the skillet so I don't get burned, and shake my hand quickly over the grease so a few water droplets drop in the grease. If the water sizzles and pops, I know it is ready. If it doesn't, you need to put the skillet back in the oven to heat some more. When you are sure the skillet is very hot, quickly pour the batter into the skillet. The batter should make a sizzling noise if the skillet is sufficiently heated. This is what make the wonderful crust! Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, and the cornbread begins to pull away for the sides of the skillet.
*Although the thought of you not wanting to use the bacon grease make a tear or two come to my eye, I know there are times when substitutions must be made. You can use vegetable oil in place of the bacon grease, but you will definitely loose some of the wonderful flavor.