Holle is a retired English and creative writing teacher. She is a professional freelance writer and contributes to Horseman Magazine.
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If you’re looking for a good crackling bread recipe, you’ve come to the right place. Ready for some homemade cornbread? Today's culinary arts entry is bread—a very special Southern cornbread. This is a recipe for a traditional old Southern food favorite—crackling bread or cracking corn bread. It’s also high on the list of favorites in the soul food category. It’s definitely delicious and addictive, but healthy, it ain’t! We refer to it as “heart attack on a plate” and eat it only a few times a year. Crackling cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to greens cooked with ham hock, and we also enjoy it with a big pot of homemade soup. Heck, hubby can made a meal from just about any southern cornbread and a tall glass of milk. When the kids hear that I’m making my crackling bread recipe, they all come running!
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- 1 cup self-rising buttermilk cornbread
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup pork cracklings
- 1/4 cup oil
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, the meal, the buttermilk, the egg, the salt, and the pepper. Stir until moistened.
- Add the cracklings and stir.
- Pour the cooking oil into the black iron skillet and heat on medium-high on the stove. Tilt the pan to make sure the sides are coated.
- When the pan is good and hot, pour in the cornbread mixture.
- Bake at 450 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
First of all, you need to understand what cracklings are. Some of you poor ol’ Yankees, city slickers, and other of my online cooking school students might not be familiar with the term pork cracklins. Cracklins, or cracklings, are pieces of pig skin that’s produced when the fat of the hog is boiled and rendered into lard. People “cook out” the cracklings. It’s cut into small pieces and is used in cooking. The cracklings are soft and chewy after being cooked in dishes like cornbread recipes. Cracklings are found in the meat section of most grocery stores. Pork cracklings usually come in a clear plastic bag, but sometimes they’re on a white Styrofoam tray, covered with plastic wrap.
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We use a lot of cornbread recipes here in the Deep South. Okay, that might be a bit misleading. I’ll change that to say a lot of cornbread recipes are available down here. Most experienced southern cooks don’t follow recipes for cornbread. They’ve made it so often that they know what ingredients to use, and they know when the batter “looks right.”
The main ingredient in cornbread recipes is cornmeal. That’s pretty obvious, right? Whether you use regular cornmeal or self-rising cornmeal is up to you, but I prefer using the self-rising version. Some cooks use all cornmeal in their homemade cornbread, while others prefer to use a mixture of cornmeal and flour. As with the cornmeal, the flour can be all purpose or self-rising. If you use plain cornmeal and plain flour, you’ll need to add some baking powder, of course, so that the bread will rise.
In addition to the basics, there are lots of different ingredients you might want to try in your cornbread recipes. Be a little adventurous! I’ve made a table of suggestions, below. It might provide you with some ideas for your homemade cornbread.
Recipes for Cornbread—Ideas
low fat milk
half and half
whole kernel corn
low fat buttermilk
diced stewed tomatoes
soul food seasoning
How to Make Cornbread
Like many of my recipes, you have to have a black iron skillet to make this crackling bread recipe correctly! The hot skillet creates a brown crispy crust on the top and sides of the cornbread, while the inside of the bread stays soft and moist. In fact, I use my trusty old skillet for practically all my recipes for cornbread.
As I’ve mentioned already, I like to use a mixture of cornmeal and flour in my homemade cornbread. Flour makes the bread lighter and not as “grainy.” I usually use about a 50-50 ratio of flour and meal, and I follow that combination when making crackling bread. If you prefer a “cornier” taste, use 75% cornmeal and 25% white wheat flour. By the way, if buttermilk cornmeal is available in your area, please give it a try!
Of course, you’ll also need some type of milk in your recipes for cornbread. This is my personal opinion. I know some folks who make their homemade cornbread with water, but I don’t think it’s as tasty. The type of milk you use is up to you. You can use whole milk, skim milk, low fat milk, or buttermilk. I vote for buttermilk!
Cornbread batter needs to be stiff, and it needs to contain at least one egg – in my humble opinion. You’ll also need to decide if you want a thin cornbread or a thicker version. For thicker cornbread, the batter will need to be stiffer than it is for thin, crisp cornbread. Personally, I usually like a thick, fluffy cornbread – one that’s brown and crusty on the top and sides. That’s why I use an iron skillet. Before pouring the batter into the pan, I often add the oil to the skillet and heat in the oven or on the stove first. This method will give your homemade cornbread some extra crust. Now that you know how to make cornbread, ready to get started?