Two days ago I decided we’d have chili for dinner the next night and then decided that corn bread would be lovely to have with it.
Lo and behold, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice has a corn bread recipe, one which Reinhart claims is “the best corn bread [he has] ever made or eaten”. Those are bold words.
I began Sunday night by soaking a cup of grits (any coarse ground cornmeal will do) with two cups of buttermilk and allowing that sit on the counter overnight.
What really sets this corn bread recipe apart from others though is the use of bacon and bacon fat. Bacon is crumbled on the top of the cornbread while the fat rendered from the bacon is used to grease the pan.
Once you’ve cooked the bacon and soaked the cornmeal, the rest of the recipe is as straightforward as all other corn bread recipes. Some all-purpose flour, baking powder and soda act as the leavening agents, sugar and brown sugar, eggs, honey, butter and corn.
This recipe yielded a 13×9 pan of 3000 calories of majesty. And it really is the best corn bread I’ve ever eaten. The bread is sweet but not overly so, the bacon adds some nice contrast in texture and a little smokiness, and the edges are a little crisp from having cooked in a thin layer of bacon fat.
Reinhart says that he makes other variations of this for Thanksgiving and substitutes turkey skin for the bacon. We were thinking duck skin and duck fat would also make a tasty variation.