IDEA ALLEY: Five cornbread recipes to please most any palate

Thick and Fluffy Big Skillet Cornbread (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Kelly Brant)

Last week's column featuring cornbread salad prompted a request for cornbread recipes.

The following are my top five.

This excellent recipe has appeared in Idea Alley numerous times over the years and is included in the Idea Alley cookbook (shop.arkansasonline.com/products/idea-alley).

In 2009 Audrey Spells of Camden wrote "This is the best cornbread recipe I have ever tried. It came from a restaurant in Camden that no longer exists."

Cornbread

·         1/3 cup cooking oil, plus more for skillet

·         1 cup cornmeal

·         1/3 cup all-purpose flour

·         2 teaspoons salt

·         ½ teaspoon baking soda

·         4 teaspoons baking powder

·         2 eggs

·         1/3 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Coat a cast iron skillet with oil and place skillet in oven to heat.

Stir dry ingredients to blend. Add eggs, oil and buttermilk. Stir until well blended. Pour into heated skillet and bake until golden brown (time will vary depending on size of skillet). Start checking after 20 minutes.

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My personal favorite is Crescent Dragonwagon's Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread. The recipe from "The Cornbread Gospels" has never failed me, even when I don't follow it exactly.

Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread

·         ¼ cup mild vegetable oil, plus more for coating skillet

·         1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

·         1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

·         1 tablespoon baking powder

·         ¼ teaspoon salt

·         ¼ teaspoon baking soda (see note)

·         1 ¼ cups buttermilk (see note)

·         2 tablespoons granulated sugar

·         1 egg

·         2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Whisk in the sugar, egg and 1/4 cup oil.

Place the prepared skillet over medium heat, and add the butter. When the butter melts and just begins to sizzle, tilt pan to coat.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix quickly, using as few strokes as possible. Scrape batter into hot skillet and transfer skillet to oven. Bake 20 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting into wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

Note: This recipe also works with regular milk, but be sure to omit the baking soda.

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If sky-high cornbread is your goal, this recipe from Lew Sorrells will get you there.

Thick and Fluffy Big Skillet Cornbread

·         Canola oil or other high-heat vegetable oil

·         1/3 cups cornmeal

·         1/3 cups all-purpose flour

·         2 tablespoons PLUS 2 teaspoons baking powder

·         4 teaspoons salt

·         2 tablespoons sugar

·         4 eggs, beaten

·         2 cups milk

Pour enough canola oil into a 10-inch iron skillet to cover bottom of the pan.

Place skillet in oven and heat to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.

Add the egg-milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir until just moistened Once oven is heated, remove skillet. Carefully pour hot oil into batter and stir vigorously to combine. Pour batter into hot skillet and bake until brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

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Also from Dragonwagon's "The Cornbread Gospels" is this gluten-free recipe credited to Truman Capote's family.

Truman Capote's Family's Cornbread

·         1 tablespoon butter or bacon drippings

·         2 eggs

·         2 cups buttermilk

·         1 teaspoon sugar

·         1 teaspoon salt

·         1 teaspoon baking soda

·         2 cups stone-ground white cornmeal

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the butter or bacon drippings in a large cast-iron skillet; heat skillet in oven.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, baking soda and cornmeal.

Stir the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture, mixing just until cornmeal is moistened.

Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl fat to coat. Pour the batter into the hot skillet. Smooth top. Return skillet to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve hot.

Tomato-Pimento Cheese Cornbread (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Kelly Brant)

If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life, I wouldn't complain if it were this.

Tomato-Pimento Cheese Cornbread

·         1 ½ to 2 pints mixed cherry and grape tomatoes, halved

·         2 cloves garlic, minced

·         ½ teaspoon hot chile powder

·         Pinch celery seeds

·         ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano or Mediterranean oregano

·         1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided use

·         ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

·         Ground black pepper, to taste

·         Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lime

·         2 green onions, minced, white and dark green parts separated, divided use

·         1 cup all-purpose flour

·         1 cup cornmeal

·         1 tablespoon sugar

·         1 tablespoon baking powder

·         1 egg, beaten

·         1 cup whole milk

·         2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

·         1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained (can substitute roasted red bell pepper)

·         ½ cup butter (1 stick)

Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven; heat to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, chile powder, celery seeds, Mexican oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, cumin, black pepper, lime zest and juice and the green onion bottoms.

Mix well; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and remaining teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the egg and milk and then gently stir in the cheese and pimentos.

Add the stick of butter to the hot skillet, swirling pan to melt. Spoon batter into hot skillet, spreading it evenly. Immediately top with the tomato mixture. Return skillet to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with the minced green onion tops.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Email recipe contributions, requests and culinary questions to: [email protected]

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