Cornbread: An American Classic

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Cornbread: An American Classic

By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Like so many dishes associated with Southern cooking, cornbread is a dish as old as America itself. Since the first contact between European settlers and the Native Americans, corn has been a regular part of the American diet.

Because of its prevalence in North American agriculture, corn—and cornmeal—remained a staple throughout the early settlement days. In the South, cornbread became especially common. It rose in popularity throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, due to its low cost and easy portability. It was common for poorer children or workers to leave home with just a hunk of cornbread spread with molasses, or with a smattering of white beans packed as their lunch. 

These days you would be hard-pressed to find a hunk of cornbread in anyone’s lunch pail, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still on the dinner table! Throughout the years, cornbread has changed in form and shape, but the basics are still the same. Here are a few of the modern day versions.

Basic Southern Cornbread
Cornmeal, eggs, a little butter milk…Recipes like this are the same as they were one hundred year ago:

Buttermilk Cornbread

Southern Cornbread

Southern-style cornbread has little or no sugar, and is usually made in a seasoned cast iron skillet.

Though these recipes call for a baking dish, they work just as well in a heated cast iron skillet!

Northern Cornbread
Cornbread in the northeastern states evolved into a sweeter version of its southern cousin. The batter is the same, with the exception of a three to four tablespoons of sugar/honey, and it is usually made in a baking dish, or made into muffins.

Hoecakes
These delicious delicacies derive their name from their origins in the fields. Farm hands once heated the blade of a hoe over a fire in place of a griddle. Today you can make this signature dish in a cast iron pan or a nonstick skillet.

Texan (Mexican) Cornbread
Texans always know how to add a spicy kick to dishes. Their cornbread is no different. By adding jalapenos, cheese, and kernel corn, their version of cornbread takes on a personality all its own.

*Kitchen’s note: Looking for some other uses for leftover cornbread? Try this cornbread salad. Or this classic stuffing. It’s not just for Thanksgiving!

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