I've been wanting to make authentic Southern cornbread for quite a while now, and who better to ask than Will's family?? My father in-law grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and he did his undergrad in New Orleans. He's also an amazing cook, and he was the first person I asked when I was on the hunt for a good cornbread recipe. It turned out absolutely delicious, but unfortunately I don't have an open proof skillet so I had to improvise. (Not that it really mattered-even if I DID have an open proof skillet, there's no way I could have made it fit into this tiny German oven in my kitchen). I used a 10-inch square pan, and it worked just fine. It took a little maneuvering, but I was very happy with the results. I would definitely suggest making the cornbread on the day you want to serve it, because it tends to dry out if you make it ahead of time.
1 cup stone ground corn meal (if available)(do not use mixes w/ suger, flour etc - just pure cornmeal)
1 cup buttermilk
1/4-1/2 tsp baking soda1/4 tsp salt if you like
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Add 2-3 tsp of oil to an 8-inch oven proof skillet, and heat the oil in the oven. Watch it carefully, or it will smoke.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal, buttermilk, egg, baking soda and salt.
3. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and decrease the heat to 400 degrees. Immediately pour the hot oil from the skillet into the corn meal mixture, and whisk together. Quickly pour the mixture back into the hot skillet.
4. Turn a burner on the stove up to high, and without shaking or agitating the skillet too much, heat the mixture until there is a slight bubbling and browning on the edges of the cornmeal mixture.
5. Put the skillet in the oven for 20-30 minutes, and remove when you see a light brown surface and dark brown edges. Insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Slice into wedges and enjoy.