When I first took this picture I immediately thought of Pacman. WakaWaka.
Cracklins? Yup. The crispy bits leftover from rendering leaf lard.
Confetti? I had a bit of fresh corn, a bit of hot chile pepper, some onion.
I come from people who live by the "waste not, want not" credo. Japanese call it "mottainai". My people would not waste a bit of this or that (corn or onion) nor would they throw away the cracklins after rendering lard, had they done that. So I tried to keep these traditions in mind when putting this together.
This cornbread was one I was sure I'd find in one of my Southern cookbooks. Surprisingly I did not. The combination was both hard to find in an existing recipe, and also a winner. You have true cornbread taste, an occasional burst of sweet corn kernel, the subtle heat from the chiles, the savory bits of onion, perfume of the cracklins, truly a keeper.
It all comes together quite easily and you could easily leave out the cracklins and make this pork-free. You could probably even make it vegan if you subbed flax seed meal and water for the egg, though I've never tried that. Some recipes want you to use mostly flour, some add sour cream, yogurt or even crème fraîche. Not traditional. I wanted a cornbread that was moist but leaned more toward rustic and traditional, not sweet and cake-y.
- 1 1/2 C cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 C AP flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 1/4 C buttermilk (or substitute see note)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 6 TBSP fat - half lard, half butter, melted then cooled
- 1/2 C cracklins
- 1/4 - 1/3 C corn kernels
- 2 TBSP chile peppers, minced
- 2 TBSP minced onion
Tip: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, any milk or milk stand in will do. I use soy milk and add 2 TBSP cider vinegar per cup. To make your own buttermilk, place vinegar in measuring cup first, fill to 1 1/4 C with soy milk. That way, your total liquid volume still corms to 1 1/4 C. In just a couple minutes it will thicken, don't worry if it looks a bit curdled.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Grease a large cast iron skillet (I used the cheesecloth for straining the rendered leaf lard).
- In a medium size bowl, mix dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, sugar).
- In another medium bowl, mix buttermilk, softened butter/lard, egg. Add chiles, onion, corn.
- Add to dry ingredients, fold in cracklins breaking up any large pieces.
- Add to prepared pan, bake 25 minutes, or until pick comes out clean and top is light golden.