Dressed Up Cornbread

My mother hardly ever varied the cornbread she baked daily in a cast iron skillet. We thought it was just about perfect the way it was. But occasionally someone would give her some cracklins and she would add those to her cornbread. It was delicious, tasting vaguely of pork. Other times she made corn sticks or rosette shaped corn muffins, but that was about it for varying her cornbread. I think that was typical of most Southern cooks at the time.

When I went to work in the Martha White® Test Kitchen, they had developed several simple recipes that incorporated one or two ingredients into the basic cornbread batter. Judging by recipe leaflets printed in the 50’s and 60’s, I believe among the first were Sausage Cornbread with the addition of 1/2 pound cooked sausage and Firecracker Corn Sticks made with of 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper.

Firecracker Corn Sticks
Firecracker Corn Sticks

Adding canned whole kernel or cream style corn has been popular for years, but I think one of the first widely acclaimed recipes with several ingredients added was the ever-popular Mexican or Tex Mex Cornbread. Of course, there are many versions, but they usually call for cream-style corn, cheese, jalapeños or green chilies, among other ingredients.

Over the years we’ve developed all kinds of recipes for cornbread, from dressing it up with just a few ingredients like Olive Rosemary Corn Sticks to recipes with enough added ingredients to become a main dish like Cornbread Skillet Pizza.

What is your favorite way to “dress up” cornbread?

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