Even though Cornbread and Biscuits are made in every region, we Southerners always think ours are the best! Biscuits seem to be the higher culinary art compared to Cornbread’s rustic texture. And the truth is, Cornbread has it’s roots in poverty, yet often graces the finest tables. French trained Southern Chef Virginia Willis said it best:
‘…cornbread and barbeque are close to religion in the South… cornbread was the primitive Baptist to the Episcopalian biscuit, the all night tent revival to the prayer luncheon.’
Give Southerners a sack of cornmeal and- if they’ve lived here more than a generation or two… they’ll have at least a half dozen variations that are based on the simple recipe for Cornbread. There’ll be no looking up recipes, it will be second nature as the Southern cook will know exactly which one to use for which meal.
- Onion studded Hushpuppies are perfect with seafood,
- Slender Corn Sticks seem to finish a big pot of chili or savory beef stew,
- Long Pans of Cornbread Dressing must reside alongside a baked hen or roasted turkey…
- a Pone of Cornbread goes with almost anything, though is true alchemy with our Barbeques, Chicken and Dumplings and makes our Southern Vegetable Plates unforgettable.
It’s the lowly and quick Cornbread Patties which seem to enhance big steaming bowls of Vegetable Soup, Potato Soup or simple Lima Beans with true bliss. Just a quick change in the amount of liquid to our regular Cornbread Batter, a spatula and a bit of oil heated in a Cast Iron Skillet as hot as the Devil’s Doorknob and before you know it…you’ll have a golden pile of Cornbread Patties! Here’s how you make ’em…
Camellia’s Cottage Cornbread Patties
- In a mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 half cups of White Self Rising Cornmeal, 1 large egg whisked, enough water or milk to make a batter similar in texture to pancake batter except maybe thinner.
- Vegetable Oil for frying (just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet)- these are not deep-fried!
- Heat oil until very hot, with a small ladle pour batter into approximately 3 inch rounds.
- Fry until there are bubbles around the edges of rounds and batter is set, carefully flip over and fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels.
- Serve as soon as possible. These are better when they are hot and crisp with a dab of butter. Makes 18-20 small patties.
Now, I must say- I never heard Cornbread Patties called Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes (which I think of as a Yankee version with a heavier batter, y’all ) but I have heard Cornbread Patties called Fried Corn Pones. Now, bless your heart, call ’em whatever you want to, just don’t add one grain of sugar- these are meant to be savory!
The day I made mine, I sautéed some chopped baked ham and onion in a bit of bacon drippings, then steamed the fresh baby limas. Served warm in a bowl with cherry tomatoes, a baked sweet potato alongside and a sweet onion cut so thin you could see through the slices were extra good with these crispy little Cornbread Patties!
Oh my, I hope you’ll try a batch and substitute them for plain soda crackers when you make a big pot of soup this Fall!
Love y’all, Camellia
*Chef Virginia Willis is the author of a wonderful cookbook aptly named Bon Appetit, Y’all and has her own version of Cornbread Patties which she calls Cornmeal Griddle Cakes
*Photographs are obviously mine