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Cracklin’ Cornbread is a true Southern recipe. Made with a traditional cornbread recipe and buttermilk. We take the succulent pork cracklin’ and bake it up in a cake of cornbread for a succulent surprise in every bite.
What is it?
Cracklin’ cornbread. To define what it is, you must define its parts. Cracklin’s are a southern fried confection made from any part of the pig that includes, skin, fat and meat. We like to use Pork belly for this as it is the easiest to prepare.
There are a number of ways to prepare Cracklin’s, and in the South, there is much debate on what way is the best way. For the purposes of this recipe though, we won’t weigh in on that debate. We like to make ours by rendering some of the fat from the raw pork belly and then frying to crispy perfection.
Never fear though, you do not have to make your own. They are easily found in a lot of grocery stores.Be sure you get get cracklings though, not pork skins or chiccarones as they are very different.
The bread portion of the recipe is a really easy, really great cornbread. So this recipe can be easily modified to make only a wonderful cake of cornbread minus the Cracklins. We do suggest though, sometime, in this life, you do try the Cracklin’ Bread. It really is life altering! It is so good, we even recommend using it to make our CORNBREAD SALAD!
How to Make it.
Just like with any great recipe, you have to start with really good ingredients. Listed below is all you need to make Cracklin’ Bread and we give you a few suggestions on what we feel works best.1/4 cup Butter – we like to use unsalted with this recipe. Just like in baking, you want to control the salt content and since the cracklings are pork, they are naturally salty.2 cups Self Rising Cornmeal Mix – it’s no secret that we love White Lily products. The milling of their products is done in such a way that you are left with a perfectly mixable batter with very few lumps. If you can’t find White Lily in your area, ask your local grocer to order some!1/2 cup Plain Flour – again, we recommend White Lily for this too. The addition of a small amount of flour gives a smoothness in texture to your cornbread. I think its the perfect secret ingredient!2 & 1/2 cups Buttermilk – the purpose of buttermilk is two fold in this recipe. Pork cracklings can be kind of dry, the buttermilk helps soften them just enough to reconstitute them during the cooking process. It almost brings them back to life! The buttermilk also wets the batter and adding a zip to the bread itself.2 eggs, beaten – as in any good cornbread, the eggs act as the glue that holds it all together. There will be no trace of egg in the recipe once this is done.
Most cornbread is always a really easy thing. You just mix and pour. This one has a little more “prep” work to it. So there are a couple of important steps you will want to do beforehand to insure a perfect cracklin’ bread every time.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.Chop cracklings carefully with a knife to bite size pieces. Sometime cracklings can be kind of big and irregular in size. Chopping them gets them a little smaller and more uniform. Add eggs to buttermilks and lightly beat. Add in cracklings and allow to sit in buttermilk and egg mixture. Mix well.
3. Place butter in a 10 in cast iron skillet and place in the oven while it preheats. Allow the butter to melt while you prepare your ingredients. Once everything is mixed, carefully remove the skillet right when you are ready to pour in your batter.
4. Sift flour and cornmeal together and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in wet ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour batter in the hot skillet on top of the melted butter. Do not mix.
6. Bake 25-30 minutes until browned. Cool and remove from pan and Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
Will my cracklings be tough or too hard?
Mixing them with the buttermilk and egg first, helps soften them a bit. However, if you are concerned they will still be too hard, you can soak them in a little warm water for about 30 minutes before preparing your cornbread.
Is a Cracklin the same as a Graton?
Yes! Graton is the French cajun name for this delicate but powerful little food. Cracklings aka Gratons are very different than pork rinds though. The rind is made just from the skin and is lighter with no meat on it. My best advice is to find some true cracklings to make this bread as using pork rinds will not add anything as they will like disappear in the cornbread.
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Is Cracklin’ Cornbread a Southern thing?
The best answer I have is it is a Louisiana thing. And since LA is in the south, the short answer is yes. However, it probably is more French cuisine at its origin if the truth be told. The beloved Cracklin’ Bread was also made famous in the Southern literary classic by Alabama native, Harper Lee, “To Kill A Mockingbird”. It was little scouts favorite after school treat! Indulge me a little, I like history, literature and Southern culture. You will find a little of all 3 on this food blog!
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