The 2-Ingredient Cornbread My Grandmother Taught Me To Make

Perfectly crispy, you can’t eat just one.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Laurel Randolph

Cornbread in every form reminds me of family, especially my grandmother. I have many fond memories of her turning on her very old, still reliable oven, adding some oil to a cast iron skillet, and sliding it inside to preheat. Then she would grab cornmeal—often self-rising cornmeal mix—and tease out the right amount just by sight. After cracking in an egg, she’d add just enough buttermilk until it “looked right.”

The mixture went into the hot, oiled pan, sizzling as it made contact. The cornbread made it to the table last of all the dishes, which was key—it needed to be fresh and piping hot so the butter you added on top ran down the sides.

She would sometimes make cornsticks using a special pan for that sole purpose, and while my mother made sweet cornbread, it wasn’t my Nannie June’s thing. She did, however, frequently make hot water cornbread, especially for Sunday supper. This might have been my favorite iteration of cornbread that she made, and turns out it's one of the simplest. No egg, no buttermilk, and no oven necessary. Just tons of crunch.

I don’t live in the South anymore, and my grandmother’s cooking days are behind her, so I ordered a bag of White Lily Cornmeal Mix online (a must, but not well-stocked in Los Angeles). The recipe tests that followed transported me back in time to my grandmother’s little kitchen, Sunday suppers, and family. I’ll be making this two-ingredient recipe anytime I’m homesick.

Why You Should Make Hot Water Cornbread

For one thing, it’s quick and easy to whip up. No need to heat up the oven or run to the store for special ingredients. If you keep some oil and cornmeal mix in your pantry, you can have perfect cornbread anytime.

Looking at the photos, you might be surprised this is called cornbread at all. But the key ingredients and flavor are the same, it’s just cooked differently. Instead of dumping the batter in a pan, you cook it much like pancakes, just with more oil. The hot oil gives the exterior tons of incredibly delicious crunch while the interior stays fluffy and delicious. It doesn’t get any better than that.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

How To Make My 2-Ingredient Hot Water Cornbread

To make about seven pieces (about four servings), you’ll need:

  • Canola or vegetable oil, for pan-frying

  • 1 cup (180g) self-rising cornmeal mix, preferably White Lily

  • About 1 cup boiling water

Add about 1/2 inch of oil to a medium or large cast iron skillet. Heat over medium heat until the oil reaches about 350°F, or when you drop a bit of batter in it sizzles vigorously right away and slowly turns golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the batter. In a heatproof bowl, add the cornmeal mix followed by 3/4 cup boiling water. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and add more water, roughly a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the batter is nearly pourable, like a thick pancake batter.

Once the oil is hot, add the batter in 1/4 cup portions, leaving an inch between each one (depending on the size of your skillet, you’ll fit 2 to 4 at a time). Let fry until crisp and deep golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, careful not to splash hot oil, and fry until the other side is the same color. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain a bit.

Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan if needed and letting it come up to temperature. Serve immediately.

2 Quick Tips for Serving Hot Water Cornbread

  1. Serve right away. Just like regular cornbread, hot water cornbread loses its magic the longer it sits. It’s by far the best a few minutes after it comes out of the sizzling oil (just don’t burn yourself!).

  2. My grandmother served this cornbread as-is with the rest of the meal. It served as the bread, and my grandfather used it to scoop up the food on his plate. I loved dipping it into potlikker and the flavorful cooking liquid from her pinto beans. It’s also fun with chow chow relish.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.