There are two things that you frequently see in my kitchen if you happen to be over for dinner this time of year. The first thing is my cast iron skillet. I'm almost certainly using it for some part of the meal.
The second thing is a big, sturdy round of cornbread. It's great as a side with tons of fall meals, but I also just like snacking on the stuff!
Traditionally, skillet cornbread is cooked with lard, which is all fine and good, but I like to take the opportunity to cook up some bacon and then fold the crispy bacon into the cornbread.
Start the bacon in a cold skillet and cook it slowly over medium heat so it doesn't cook too quickly. Then you can scoop out the crispy bacon and leave the rendered fat for greasing the pan. And yes, even with the bacon fat in the skillet, I still like to melt a bit of extra butter in the skillet before pouring in the batter. It makes the bottom of the cornbread extra crispy and delicious!
I like my cornbread with buttermilk, which gives it a nice tang, and just a tiny touch of sugar. Nothing crazy, but it gives the cornbread just enough sweetness while keeping it savory.
The finished cornbread will be soft on the inside, but crunchy around the edges. Be sure to let it cool for about 15 minutes before you slice and serve this stuff. And yes, I'll still drizzle on some honey, even with the bacon and cheese!
Bacon Cheddar Skillet Cornbread
1/4 pound (4 pieces) thick-cut bacon, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the bacon in a cold cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook until the fat renders out and the bacon is crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove the pan from heat.
To make the batter, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, and stir the melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs into the batter. When batter is mixed, fold in most of the crispy bacon and grated cheese, reserving a little to sprinkle over top.
Add two more tablespoons of butter to the cast iron skillet with the bacon fat. Melt the butter over medium heat and swirl it around the pan.
Pour the cornmeal batter into the cast iron skillet and smooth it out to an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved bacon and cheese over top. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick in the middle is free of crumbs.
Remove the cast iron skillet from the oven and let the cornbread cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
- This is a very flexible recipe. Feel free to stir in some jalapenos for extra heat or fresh chives or scallions for a bit of fresh onion flavor.
(Image credits: Nick Evans)