I have always carried a bit of culinary pride in cornbread. For decades, I have used Martha White Self-Rising Cornmeal along with buttermilk, oil and an egg. That recipe along with a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet guarantees a perfect outcome every single time. I could make it in my sleep.
So when my friend Elizabeth gave me a package of popcorn meal, I was skeptical. She knew it and told me I just had to give this a try. OK, fine! But secretly I knew I wouldn’t like it. Why mess with perfection?
So to the kitchen I go late one afternoon to begin dinner and there it was, sitting on the countertop taunting me. I decided there was no time like the present and gave it a try. My oh my! When I flipped the baked cornbread onto a plate to cut, I have to admit that I didn’t see much difference. But I smelled the difference. It has a toasted aroma with a depth to it that I knew came from the popcorn origin. I cut it into wedges and my unsuspecting husband took a dive into the butter. I silently waited while he took his first bite. Immediately, he said, “Hey this isn’t your normal cornbread!” I sat there thinking he’s right! Then he said, “It’s different, but I like it too!” That meant it was my time to take a bite.
He’s right in that it is different and equally good. The difference is in the crunch that the popcorn gives the cornbread. It has a bit of grit to it and the flavor certainly does mimic that of popcorn, especially when buttered. It matched beautifully with the soup I made that evening. I learned a valuable lesson in the process: Keep an open mind, even when you think you have mastered a recipe!
Popcorn Meal Cornbread
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups popcorn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Place a greased cast iron skillet in the oven. Preheat to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, stir together the meal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the egg, buttermilk and oil. Stir until well blended. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the batter to the pan. Return to the oven and bake 25 minutes. Serve warm.
The Carthage Mill