In late July, Western Pennsylvania corn is at it's very best. You can find it for sale on street corners everywhere. It's one of my favorite foods, and it tastes like sweet sunshine. The snow keeps falling and I am craving some of that sunshine. So I decided to imagine some warm weather and bake my favorite cornbread. Cornbread has a different character depending on the region of the US you are in. I prefer a savory southern cornbread, the type which is found in the rural south. Unlike the drier and lighter northern cornbread, this is more dense and moist. It is also zesty with a touch of sweet. I am getting warmer already!
This recipe calls for bacon grease. The southern United States is famous for it's cured and smoked bacon. Nothing was ever wasted by struggling and hardworking families in the past, and bacon grease was saved and used in many dishes. It doesn't hurt to learn a few of these economies and put them to use today. But for those who avoid pork products, butter also works well and tastes lovely.
2 cups of fresh sweet corn (you can use canned sweet corn)
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh ground black pepper (about 6 grinds)
one good pinch kosher salt
hot sauce (to taste!)
2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
In a bowl combine corn, cornmeal, flour, milk, egg and seasonings and mix well. Set aside. In a cast iron skillet, saute onion in bacon grease or butter until soft. Pour in corn batter and bake in skillet in oven set to 350 for about 35-40 minutes. Melt butter over the top while hot and serve. If preferred, you can bake in a 9x12 baking dish, greased with butter.
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