Thursday, April 14, 2011

Skillet Corn Bread

The staff of life—Bread. It has for many centuries been essential to lives around the globe, a part of worlds old and new from ancient Egyptians to Rome and Greece, prized by princes and paupers and with symbolic significance to most religions.

American colonists arrived in the New World accustomed to bread made from flour, rejecting corn initially as a grain fit only for livestock. They soon learned from Native Americans to appreciate corn as a basis for delicious bread and puddings. Corn soon found a permanent place in American kitchens. “Old-fashioned” cooking, especially in the south, of corn pone, corn pudding and corn bread were easier alternatives to wheat based bread for people living in the country. Louisiana heat and the scarcity of flour complicated the making of traditional bread, and instead Cajuns and Creoles made corn pudding, sweet potato pudding, corn bread, biscuits or rice cakes.

Long a subject of superstition in Louisiana, one old Creole belief tells us that a loaf of bread upside down on the table is evidence that the devil is around. It was once considered acceptable by many to beat one’s wife if her bread didn’t rise, felt to be good evidence of infidelity.

In his book, The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, John Folse explains, ‘Ever since the native Indians introduced corn to Americans, corn bread has been a staple on the southern table. The Creoles adapted this simple bread using different ingredients and flavorings such as jalapeños to create new recipes.’

A casual invitation to dinner led to the thought of contributing something with a Louisiana flavor. The big Folse history and cookbook offers four recipes for corn bread in its chapter on breads. CREOLE CORN BREAD seemed like a good choice.


1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 can cream corn

1 lb. ground meat

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 onion diced

1½ cups grated cheese

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced


Preheat oven to 375°. This method of cooking corn bread calls for the use of a cast iron skillet. Chef John Folse points out that corn bread is best prepared in a preheated cast iron skillet. In a medium saucepan brown the meat—in this case sausage— over medium-high heat. In a separate bowl combine the cornmeal, corn, salt, baking soda, milk and egg. Blend well. Pour half of the cornmeal mixture into the heated cast iron skillet. Layer the ground sausage, onions, cheese and jalapeños on top of the corn batter. Pour the remaining batter over the layers. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. It should serve eight people.


  1. Very interesting.....I have made cornbread with the corn in it but not the ground meat. This particular recipe is similar to a recipe that Ben's mother gave me years ago and it was the dish she made the first time I was invited to their home for dinner. The only difference was it had ripe olives in it. This dish was called Hot Tamale Pie. I don't serve it any long because when I have, I haven't gotten good reviews. The Hot Tamale Pie that I make is "soupy" and not firm as your picture shows.

  2. Being a Mis'sip'pi boy raised on a farm, my father was fond of cracklin cornbread--usually pork rind cracklins added to the mix. Cornbread I grew up with was from old fashioned grist mills most times powered by a horse or mule moving in a circle as he moved the huge top stone around. Made for thicker texture cornbread and held up when buttered and pushing peas and butterbeans around and soaking up the juices. Hmm unh good.

  3. That second photo looks an awful lot like the bread was "upside down on the table." Was the devil invited to dinner - or was he masquerading as one of the guests - or hosts??? I'll have to make sure that Fred isn't around when I bake bread. I wouldn't want him to see an un-risen lump of dough and get wacky ideas! Good recipe. I'll have to try it myself one of these days.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America