Can you believe I've never had cornbread? It was just something we didn't grow up with. A little strange, considering my love of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was young. Kacey pretty much had a heart attack when I told him I've never eaten chili with cornbread, and since we received the Little House Cookbook for a wedding gift, I thought it was time to try my hand at making it and see what the fuss was about.
Well, the recipe in the Little House cookbook is a little um, rustic. As in cornmeal, salt, and water. And lard. Yeah. So I combined it with the cornbread recipe from the Pioneer Woman and made a bit of it up for my own pioneer style cornbread. Kacey kept raving about it, so I think it went over well.
Pioneer Style Cornbread recipe:
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup mixed shortening and bacon grease
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk and egg, stir until batter is just mixed.
Here's where the crazy Little House style ingredients come in. You'll need 1/4 cup of either butter, margarine, or some type of shortening. I decided to use bacon grease since it's the closest thing I had to lard (I'm all for being authentic, but straight up lard is just a bit too much). I took about 1/8 cup of hardened bacon grease that was left over from breakfast (and yes, we planned ahead and made bacon just so I could use the leftovers) and about 1/8 cup of vegetable shortening. I figured this way I'd have the flavoring of the bacon, but not all of the cholesterol. (Not that this is a super healthy recipe in the first place). Whatever you use, melt the 1/4 cup of shortening in a small bowl in the microwave- it needs about 30 seconds. Pour melted shortening into the batter and stir until mixed.
Heat a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan on the stovetop over medium high heat. Melt a tablespoon of either butter or bacon grease in the pan. Add the mixture to the pan and cook on the stove for about 2 minutes.
Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. The edges should be a light brown and pulling away from the pan. Take out of the oven and cool. Enjoy with chili or whatever else you eat cornbread with. I apparently still have a lot to learn about this food.