All About Corn
The reason we Southerners love corn is because there are so many things you can do with it. Plus, there’s so much of it! If there’s one thing we know how to do in the South, it’s to make the most of what’s around us. Here are some of the basic corn dishes every Southern cook should know.
The Cornbread Debate
When it comes to cornbread, every family has their own spin on what makes the perfect recipe. Should you use white or yellow corn meal? Should you add sugar? Should it be thick or thin; round or square, baked in a cast iron skillet or cake pan? Of course, it all comes down to what you like, but here are a few regional preferences you might notice if you’re traveling across the South:
- For Southern purists, there is no sugar in the cornbread batter, white corn meal is preferred, and it always gets baked in a cast-iron skillet.
- Folks from the Southwest tend to prefer unsweetened cornbread made with yellow corn meal and like to bake it in a square pan.
- Everywhere else, people like their cornbread yellow and sweet.
At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you keep the family cornbread tradition.
How to Make Cornbread Dressing
Ever wonder what the difference between dressing and stuffing is? The truth of the matter is they’re the same thing… it all depends on what part of the South you’re in. But no matter where you go, Southern cooks always prepare cornbread dressing in a separate pan.
In its simplest combination, cornbread dressing is a seasoned mixture of crumbled cornbread and wheat bread or biscuits, moistened with broth and then baked. But as simple as that seems, there are countless variations on the basic cornbread dressing. Here are a few things to consider before making a batch:
- The cornbread: To have good cornbread dressing, you must have good cornbread. Although some people make a special cornbread for their dressing, most recipes simply call for crumbled cornbread. Use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet to make crisp cornbread with any Martha White® Cornbread Mix for added texture and flavor.
- Bread crumbles: Most cornbread dressing recipes call for some wheat bread, which makes the dressing hold together a little better than all cornbread. But you can use frozen leftover biscuits, white, whole-wheat, or French bread, or whatever you have on hand.
- Texture: The texture of dressing is a personal preference. Texture is determined by how finely the bread is crumbled, by the proportion of cornbread to bread, and by the amount of broth used. The addition of eggs to the bread mixture makes the dressing hold together a little more.
- Standard seasonings: Most traditional cornbread dressing recipes call for onions and celery sautéed in butter, along with chicken or turkey broth. Then, dried (not ground) sage is used to create a defining flavor.
- Adding a unique spin: To create your own stylish dressing, try adding savory meats such as cooked sausage, country ham, or bacon. Then add in some fruits, such as chopped apples, raisins, dried apricots, or cranberries. Toasted pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts also add a nice flavor and texture. The addition of herbs and spicessuch as nutmeg, fresh parsley, cayenne, thyme, rosemary, or marjoramwill also add interest to dressing.
Martha White Corn Meal and Cornbread Mixes
Martha White makes a corn meal and a cornbread mix to suit every tastemade from both white and yellow corn meal.
- Plain Corn Meal: Simply dried ground corn.
- Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix: The best-selling Martha White corn meal mix product, this corn meal mix is like corn meal except it has a little flour added for light textured, moist cornbread. It is available in white or yellow corn meal.
- Buttermilk Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix: Buttermilk powder, which gives a traditional tangy flavor to cornbread, is added to self-rising corn meal mix. This product is convenient for folks who like the buttermilk flavor, but don’t always have fresh buttermilk on hand.
- Cotton Country® Cornbread Mix and Buttermilk Cornbread Mix both make traditional Southern style cornbread. Made with white corn meal, they are not very sweet and make moist cornbread with a crisp, brown crust.
- Sweet Yellow Cornbread Mix and Yellow Cornbread Mix are made from yellow corn meal and provide you with a choice of “sweet” or “not sweet” cornbread.
- Mexican Style Cornbread Mix, Hush Puppy Mix and Corn Muffin Mix each produce a convenient specialty corn meal product.
- Also available is 19-oz. Family Size White Cornbread Mix with enough to make two 8-inch skillets or one 10-inch skillet of moist, delicious cornbread.