Lucille’s Black Skillet Cornbread

  • Prep Time
    20 minutes
  • Cook Time
    20 to 22 minutes
  • Serving
  • View

My Grandmother Lucille made the best cornbread.  Of course, she had a set of perfectly seasoned black skillets that were so smooth and shiny they seemed to have a non-stick finish.  I’m sure she cooked in those same skillets for decades.  Somewhere along the line, I wound up with her small six inch black skillet which I absolutely love and use frequently.  It’s perfect for making a small pan of cornbread, plenty big enough for two to four people.  Black cast iron skillets get really hot – how many Southern cooks have experienced the horrible feeling of absent-mindedly grabbing the handle of a hot skillet?  Ouch!  There are several secrets to making great cornbread:  First, put a little oil in the skillet and heat it in a 450 degrees oven until it is VERY hot.  Then, take the skillet out of the oven and sprinkle some salt over the surface.  Next, pour in your cornbread batter, which will sizzle a bit when you pour it into the hot oil, then quickly return the skillet to the hot oven.  This will create a crisp brown crust on the top of your cornbread and a soft tender interior.  Cornbread is best eaten right out of the oven, in my opinion.  With butter… even better!  And it is the must-have side dish to slow cooked beans or thick, hearty stews and soups.  I usually add shredded cheese and sometimes chopped scallions or sliced jalapeno peppers to my cornbread batter which my grandmother would never have done.  And she certainly didn’t add sugar!  But I think she would have approved of my rendition of cornbread because every time I make it, I remember her and the generous delicious meals she put on the table for her family.  As kids, we didn’t know how wonderful those meals were:  sweet juicy tomatoes fresh from her garden, pinto beans slow cooked with a chunk of ham for seasoning, a pot of turnip or collard greens, and a skillet of beautiful golden-crusted cornbread.  And for dessert?  My grandfather would pour himself a big glass of cold buttermilk then crumble up the left-over cornbread in it for dessert.  Okay, that is still a little hard-core for me.  But the memory remains a delicacy.  That’s my grandmother Lucille, below, with my sister on the left and my Mom on the right.

If you did not inherit your own black skillet, get one at Amazon.

And if you have one but it has become rusty, then follow the following directions from The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond).  These instructions are lifted from her web site,

1.Preheat the oven to 400˚. Wash your skillet well with hot, soapy water and dry it.

2.Spread a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening in the skillet, wiping out any excess.

3.Arrange your oven racks so there are two racks about equal distance apart.

4.Place a sheet of foil over the bottom rack to catch the oil drips in the next step.

5.Place the skillet upside down on the top oven rack.

6.Bake for one hour, then turn off the heat and let the skillet sit in the oven until cooled.


Lucille's Cornbread


    Step 1

    Pour 1 TBS of oil in the bottom of a black skillet and put it in a 450 degrees oven until it is very, very hot, about 15 minutes.

    Step 2

    While the skillet is heating, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl.

    Step 3

    Just before you take the skillet out of the oven, add the eggs, the buttermilk and the vegetable oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon and combine well. (Don't overmix or beat the batter).

    Step 4

    Take the skillet out of the oven and sprinkle some salt in the bottom of the hot pan.

    Step 5

    Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven.

    Step 6

    Cook the cornbread for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown on top (which is going to be the bottom because you are going to turn the bread out of the pan into a serving plate).

    Step 7

    When you turn out the cornbread, you should have a dark brown crispy surface on the top side. Serve immediately with plenty of butter if desired.

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