Saturday, April 25, 2009

Old Fashioned Real Cornbread & Pinto Beans

Cornbread--vs--Corncake, anyone know the difference??? Just check the recipe. If it has any type of sweetner, it is corncake. If it has any more than about 3-4 tablespoons of flour to help hold it together, it is corncake. If it is baked in a pan or glass baking dish and the picture shows it more than 1" thick, it is corncake. Cornbread should be made out of fresh ground corn, sweet buttermilk, bacon drippings, little salt, couple eggs, and maybe no more than a 1/8 cup of flour per skillet. It should be baked in a very hot cast iron skillet that has been greased with lard or bacon drippings. The bottom should brown up nicely to the point of being slightly crunchy and the bread should come out about an inch in thickness.

Ok, lets do the real thing...

These are the ingredients for some good cornbread. The corn is grown on the Po-Farm for Frito Lay corn chips. We will grind this for our cornmeal.

Old Dave's recipe for two large 9-10" skillets of real cornbread is as follows.

2 cups fresh ground cornmeal
4 TBl flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sweet buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
2 TBL bacon grease
Enough lard to grease up the two skillets.

Sift the dry ingredients and then add the wet stuff and stir lightly until it is mixed. Do not over-stir or overmix. Lumpy batter is a-ok.

Next step is two shell enough of the corn off of the cobs for our two cups of cornmeal.

Great meal is ground course and never fine and when you eat the cornbread, you should have some grit left in it. In other words, as you chew the cornbread, it should be slightly gritty. Again, It is NOT cake!!

This is about 4 cups of fresh ground cornmeal ready for our cornbread.

I decided to do this cook and bake on my Backwoods Chubby so I got it out, loaded it up with good lump charcoal and fired it off with two Weber fire cubes which I placed right in front of the two intake vents. I will also run a dry water pan for this bake and cook. I planned to bake the cornbread first at about 400 degrees and then lower the temp to around 275 degrees and do my beans.

I greased up two 9" skillets with lard and placed them in the smoker as I want the skillets very hot when I pour in the cornbread batter.

Now, while I am waiting for my cooker to get on temp, I will start on my old fashioned method of cooking some pinto beans to go with our real cornbread.

Never, I say never, soak hard beans for any recipe. If you do, you will lose up to 18% of the nutrition in the beans when you throw out the water. It is fine to wash the beans if you want but please, don't pre-soak any hard beans for the best results. Beans are simple...put them in a pot, light the fire, and cook them.

Never add water to any dry beans as they are cooking. Start with the right amount of water for the cook and you will get a better result.

To start my pinto bean cook, I sort about 2 cups of the beans to be sure to get the small rocks and other crap out of the beans. If they look dirty, I will wash them but 9 out of ten time with beans, I do not wash them as they usually look good to me.

I then get my seasoning meat ready for the cook. I like to season all beans with a little bacon and a lot of 2 year old aged country ham. For this 2 cup cook of pinto beans, I am using about 9-10 ozs of the ham and two strips of smoked bacon.

This picture shows the seasoning meat ready to go into the bean pot.

I will also chop up a medium size onion for the cook.

I start by throwing the ham and the bacon in the pot and then kinda rendering it down on the kitchen stove to where most of the grease has been cooked out of the meat. I then add 10 cups of water, the beans, and the onions and then grind a big batch of black pepper over the beans. I do not salt as the country ham is usually salty enough for the pot of beans.

The beans are now ready for the smoker.

Well, the Chubby is up to temp (about 400 degrees) and is ready for the cornbread.

Just pour about half the batter into the first very hot skillet and you should hear some crackling as the batter hits the very hot lard in the skillet.

Do the same to the second skillet and you are ready to smoke some cornbread. I usually use about one small piece of apple smoke wood or nothing but the lump charcoal for this bake.

It takes about 30 minutes at 400 degrees to get the cornbread done. This skillet is about done.

Both loaves just out of the smoker and looking good.

Just slop on some real butter and give the cornbread a try. I think you can see just how crispy the bottom of the cornbread is and that is the way you want it.

After I lowered the temp in the Backwoods Chubby to about 300 degrees, I loaded up the bean pot. I cooked the beans at around 275-300 degrees for about 3-1/2 hours to get them as done as I wanted.

About every 45 minutes, the smoke and skum would build up on top of the beans in the pot, and I would then stir all this great stuff into the beans and continue the cook.

The beans are about done and ready to come off the cooker.

I will usually taste the beans and adjust for salt and then maybe add some chopped onions and just eat a large bowl with some of that real cornbread.

Good stuff...Nuff Said


  1. dang podnah, it's not every day that i see a cook grind their own cornmeal to make cornbread. nice going! beans and cornbread is good groceries.

  2. Chez,
    Thanks for the comments. You know, all a meal like this needs is a big thick pok chop and a pan of fried taters that have been cooked in lard.

  3. Dave, I agree with the grit in the corn pone. I add some grits to mine to make out like it's stone ground. The mexicans around here almost made me want to atempt what you did here but being lazy soul I am I ain't never got aroundtoit yet. What a great cook!

  4. Hey Dave,

    This is a very cool blog.

    I'm thinking about a BGE when my old Weber kettle finally craps out.