Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread
Unlike sweet and cakey Northern versions that are better suited to the dessert table, Southern cornbread recipes contain neither sugar nor flour, making them savory enough to join the main course.
  • • 2¼ cups cornmeal
  • • 2 cups buttermilk
  • • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • • 2 large eggs
  1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oven safe skillet on middle rack for 10 minutes. Bake cornmeal on rimmed baking sheet set on lower-middle rack until fragrant and color begins to deepen, about 5 minutes. Transfer hot cornmeal to large bowl and whisk in buttermilk; set aside.
  2. Add oil to hot skillet and continue to bake until oil is just smoking, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and add butter, carefully swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour all but 1 tablespoon oil mixture into cornmeal mixture, leaving remaining fat in pan. Whisk baking powder, baking soda, salt, and eggs into cornmeal mixture.
  3. Pour cornmeal mixture into hot skillet and bake until top begins to crack and sides are golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Serve.
While any oven safe skillet will work here, our first choice (for both tradition and function) is a cast-iron skillet. Avoid coarsely ground cornmeal, as it will make the corn bread gritty.

Finely ground Quaker cornmeal gave the cornbread the right texture, and dry-toasting the cornmeal in the oven for five minutes intensified the corn flavor. Buttermilk added a sharp tang that worked well with the corn. When it came to fat selection, a combination of butter (for flavor) and vegetable oil (which can withstand high heat without burning)
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