“Heat the oven up hot then cook it till it’s done…”

There is much to say about my grandfather (John Pack) and my hope is that it’s all said in a reality tv show one day that makes my entire family rich and famous. Until then I’m going to pass along to you, one of the finest things he has passed along to me.

Papaw and Eli farting around...

Since I was a little boy, one my very favorite things to eat has been the cornbread prepared by most anyone in my family. It’s unique for a few reasons.

1. It’s NOT sweet. When I say not sweet, I mean it has NO sugar in it. It tastes NOTHING like a corn muffin.

2. It’s NOT YELLOW. When I say it’s not yellow, I mean it’s white. It’s made using white cornmeal rather than yellow.

3. It has only 3 INGREDIENTS and one of them is water. When I say 3, I mean 3….self rising flour and self rising white cornmeal + water.

Here is a picture of a piece of cornbread I made last week, sitting on top of

some dirty rice…

Rebecca and I visited Mamaw and Papaw at their home in Kentucky several years ago and one of my hopes was to learn how to make this beautiful bread myself. Papaw seemed reluctant to share but that’s really just how he is when he knows you want something:)

He launched into his timeless instructions…

Me: Hey gramps, how do you make your cornbread?

Gramps: Well, I just make it.

Me: Will you tell me how so I can make it myself?

Gramps: Well, ya heat a skillet up till it’s hot with some oil in the bottom and then you get your 60/40 mix nice and wet and pour it in. Cook it till it’s done and that’s about it…

Me: How much oil?

Gramps: A splash

Me: How hot should the oven be?

Gramps: Hot.

Me: Whats 60 / 40 mix?

Gramps: 60% self rising flour and 40% self rising WHITE corn meal.

Me: How much water?

Gramps: I told you, till it’s good and wet.

Me: Thanks?

For the next year or so I made  it regularly, dialing the temperature, viscosity and ingredient ratio in to where I was comfortable sharing it with others. It’s funny because in the end, his instructions were spot on, it just took a while for me to understand them correctly. The perfect “pone” of cornbread is made using the following recipe.

* Put 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a regular sized skillet (cast iron preferred).

* Put the skillet in the oven and turn in up to 450 degrees.

* Put 1 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of White Self Rising Flour in a bowl

* Put 1 cup of White Self Rising Corn Meal into the bowl.

* Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

* Combine dry ingredients with fork.

* Add 2 cups of water.

* Wisk with fork until it’s like pancake batter. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick to pour nicely.

* Take the piping hot skillet out of the oven and put it on the stove top.

* Pour the batter into the skillet. (It should sizzle because it’s so hot)

* Put it back in the oven and cook it for about 20 minutes.

* Open the oven and spray the top of the bread with cooking spray and then close the oven and turn the broiler to high.

* Broil on high for 5 minutes to brown the top.

* Remove from oven and turn the skillet upside down onto the counter, the bread should pop right out.

* Spread butter on top of the entire top of the bread.

* Cut into triangles like a pizza.

* Serve to people you love and become instantly famous for feeding them one of the most delicious things they have ever eaten.

I’ve been making this bread for about 7 years now so I basically do it by eye the way I’ve always seen my family do it.

Today I decided to bend the rules….

Today I added three ingredients that transformed the bread into a delicious gourmet item that could be served alongside the stuff of kings!

Here is today’s recipe…

* Put 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a regular sized skillet (cast iron preferred).

* Put the skillet in the oven and turn in up to 45o degrees.

* Put 1 cup plus one heaping tablespoon of White Self Rising Flour in a bowl

* Put 1 cup of White Self Rising Corn Meal into the bowl.

* Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

* Combine dry ingredients with fork.

* Add 2 cups of water.

* Wisk with fork until it’s like pancake batter. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick to pour nicely.

* Add 1 small minced onion that has been sauteed

* Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley.

* Take the piping hot skillet out of the oven and put it on the stove top.

* Pour the batter into the skillet. (It should sizzle because it’s so hot)

* Put it back in the oven and cook it for about 20 minutes.

* Open the oven and spray the top of the bread with cooking spray and then close the oven and turn the broiler up to high.

* Broil on high for 5 minutes to brown the top.

* Remove from oven and turn the skillet upside down onto the counter, the bread should pop right out.

* Spread 1/2 cup of shredded cheese of your liking on top.

* Take the piping hot skillet and turn it upside down on top of the cornbread and leave it like that for about 3 minutes so the cheese melts perfectly onto the bread.

* Cut into triangles like a pizza.

* Serve to people you love and become instantly famous for feeding them one of the most delicious things they have ever eaten.

The New Cornbread with onions and parsley inside and topped with melted cheese.

This is what it looked like right after I cut it. I’m serious when I tell you it was absolutely delicious. I would serve this version alongside lamb chops, Angus beef, rib roast, good pork chops etc…

So there it is friends, an actual eatable heirloom. You are now holding in your hands one of the finest and most deliciously satisfying recipes you will ever engage with (talking about the un-adulterated bread of coarse).

Enjoy!…and please comment on your experience, I would love to hear if you like it as much as my family does:)

Good Eating!

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8 thoughts on ““Heat the oven up hot then cook it till it’s done…”

  1. Hey Cuz, Mommie and daddy made this same cornbread!!!! They used buttermilk instead of water and butter in the skillet instead of oil. It always turned out so delicious and crispie. Give it a try and I will try yours. The cheese one sounds awesome. Love ya and tell the family Hello and that I Love them..
    P-Nut (Claudette and Noah Tackett’s daughter) My mom is your mamaws oldest sister. ;O)

    1. Mamaw kept interrupting while Papaw was explaining how to make it, saying “Johnny Mo, he don’t know!…you need to use buttermilk!” Papaw, in all his charm, made it clear that if I wanted to do it right I needed to use water:) I will try it with buttermilk next time P-Nut, and then I’ll know once and for all:) If you tell papaw, I’ll deny it!…

      I’ll be sure to send your love along, and I send the same to you and yours:)

  2. I could hear his voice as I read this and it took me back to many occasions.
    I have heard many people ask the “How Long do you cook it?” question and just like Johnny Carson waiting for Ed McMahon to finish, your Papaw would pounce and say” Till it’s done, Stupid” and just giggle like he couldn’t believe he got another one.
    Sometimes, joke never gets old, unless Greg gets ahold of it.

  3. Hey John, cornbread has been a staple in our families for decades. I remember when I was a girl growing up on MudCreek in KY, we always had a big garden. Mommie would make us a pone of cornbread and we would pull fresh green oinions out of the garden and sit and eat them together. Also, fresh tomatoes cut up with cornbread is super. Love it, just made some monday for a couple of my friends from work who are from Mexico. They love cornbread, porkchops and mashed potatoes…which is what I made…LOL.
    Here is a variation on the old time favorite: Mexican cornbread
    my mother-in-law gave me this recipe years ago and it is really good with chili in the winter or the 15 bean soup I make.

    Mix 1 egg in with your flour and corn meal (self-rising and white)
    in another bowl mix 1/2 cup oil, 8 oz of sour cream, 1 small can cream style corn, a medium size oinion, and about 5 green onions cut up, and jalapeno’s to your liking chopped up. Mix the cornmeal/flour/egg mix in with it and stir. Oil an iron skillet and heat up in 425 degree oven and then add mix and bake for about 13-17 minutes, or as Uncle John would say, until it’s done. This version is really good also with lots of real butter scooped on it…..we love it. Maybe we can do all our fav cornbreads for the reunion!!! LOL.

    1. That sounds really delicious! When you get a few minutes, would you mind posting the 15 bean soup recipe? I promise to make it this winter with the cornbread and take good pictures and post a blog about it:)

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