Ah, the cornbread controversy.
Southerners maintain that not even a smidgen of sugar should besmirch their beloved cornbread. Northerners, ever girding themselves for winter, like their cornbread a little sweet.
Southerners call for bacon fat, while Northerners think butter is just fine. There are buttermilk camps and plain milk camps. Diced jalapenos, shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, corn kernels, dollops of jam?
In the end, though, it all comes down to the corniness of the cornbread.
Todays recipe combines the best parts of two great recipes, one from Cooks Illustrated and the other from Cooks Country.
If you have a cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, please use that. But a regular 9-by-9-inch metal pan works well, too. Preheating either pan creates the crispiest crust. And if you want to swap in bacon fat for the butter, yall go ahead.
FRESH CORN SKILLET CORNBREAD
Serves 9 to 12.
2 1/4 c. fine-ground cornmeal
2 c. buttermilk
2 ears of sweet corn, kernels cut from cobs (about 1 to 1 1/2 c.)
1/4 c. canola or vegetable oil
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in 4 pieces
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in middle position. Place 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet or 9-by-9-inch metal pan in oven to preheat for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal and buttermilk. Set aside. Process the corn kernels in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and deep yellow, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Carefully add the oil to the hot skillet and continue to bake until oil is just smoking, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add butter, carefully swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of oil mixture into the cornmeal, leaving remaining oil mixture in pan. Whisk corn puree, beaten eggs, baking powder, baking soda and salt into cornmeal mixture until well-combined.
Pour mixture into the hot skillet and bake until top begins to crack and edges are golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cornbread cool in pan for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the top of cornbread, then carefully turn over the skillet until the cornbread releases. Then cover cornbread with a serving plate and flip it so its right-side up. Serve warm.
Variations: Stir in 1/4 cup chopped jalapenos, 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar or pepper jack cheese, or 3 to 4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon just before baking.
Nutrition per each of 12 servings: 230 calories; 10 g fat; 400 mg sodium; 29 g carbohydrates; 3 g saturated fat; 77 mg calcium;; 5 g protein; 43 mg cholesterol; 2 g diatary fiber