This may differ from the food you eat regularly, but the classical Corn Pone should be on every homesteader’s list of go-to recipes for various reasons. For those not familiar with the dish, let me introduce it to you.
This is a traditional Southern dish that has existed since the early years of Native America. The most basic cornmeal pancakes only require four ingredients and can be baked or fried until crisp and golden.
You can serve these corny cakes alongside other Southern classics like collard greens and fried chicken or on its own – slathered in honey or butter.
The Pioneer’s Bread is quick and easy to prepare, but before we dive in, let’s explore:
Origins of Corn Pone
The term “pone” draws inspiration from the Native American language, a testament to the cross-cultural culinary heritage that shaped this dish.
European settlers adapted the recipe, creating Corn Pone—a reminder of the interconnectedness of culinary traditions.
Corn Pone’s history stretches far and wide, with each region and cook adding their own flair to this simple dish. The most basic form of corn pone consists of water, salt, cornmeal, and possibly some flour.
Over time, people have enhanced the recipe by incorporating additional ingredients for a more enjoyable dining experience.
Corn Pone vs. Cornbread
While cornbread and Corn Pone share a common foundation of cornmeal, they differ in texture and taste. In contrast to a thin and fluffy cornbread, corn pone is much thicker and heavier. The texture and flavor are different because there are no eggs or milk.
While Corn Pone is best described as a hybrid of bread and pudding, cornbread has a more cake-like, bread-like texture. When money was scarce, people typically made corn pone, a simplified version of cornbread.
Key Ingredients of Corn Pone
- Cornmeal Selection: Opt for a fine or medium grind of stone-ground cornmeal (1 cup), ensuring its authenticity and texture. Choose between white or yellow variants, both offering exceptional results.
- Bacon Grease (1 tsp): Infuse smoky and savory goodness by utilizing rendered bacon fat.
- Flour: Just a little bit to compact things up.
- Baking Powder (1 tsp): Elevate the batter’s texture, producing a light and airy Corn Pone.
- Salt: Employ finely ground sea salt or table salt for optimal flavor balance.
- Honey or Molasses (1 tsp): Use any of the two to add flavor and sweetness.
- Water (1/2 cup): Use boiling water to dissolve salt and bacon grease thoroughly.
- Vegetable Oil (1/4 cup): Use vegetable oil for frying.
How to Make Corn Pone
1. Mix 1 cup of medium or fine stone-ground cornmeal and 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a medium bowl. Whisk these ingredients until they harmonize into a uniform mixture.
2. Add the beacon grease and honey or molasses to the mixture.
3. Introduce 1/2 cup of hot water to the mixture, stirring diligently until a soft, thick dough forms. The dough should possess the ability to be molded into a disk and retain an indentation when pressed.
4. Add some flour to compact things up, then allow the dough to rest and develop its flavors by covering it with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
5. Transform the dough into 4 (1/4 cup) portions, weighing about 2 ounces. Make each piece into 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.
6. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a generously sized cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium heat. Wait until the grease shimmers.
7. Place the patties into the pan and let them sizzle. While frying, please pay attention to your pones’ golden hue, flipping them to ensure a perfect, crispy texture. A little patience goes a long way to achieve that heavenly crunch. This process takes approximately 4 minutes. However, you can continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the second side to achieve its desired golden glory.
8. As your corn pones turn a beautiful golden brown, remove them from the skillet and let them drain on paper towels. Be mindful not to let your excitement set the towels on fire – we’ve all been there!
9. Transfer the enchanting pones onto a plate with the utmost care, utilizing a flat spatula or slotted spoon.
10. Serve and Enjoy – Corn Pone is a versatile side dish, perfect for both sweet and savory indulgences. Drizzle it with maple syrup or honey, or get creative with jams and fruit compotes.
Tips for Perfect Corn Pone
- Utilize hot water for a superior texture.
- Use medium heat to achieve that golden-brown crust.
- To ensure uniform cooking, avoid packing the pan too tightly.
- Take your time with the cooking process; slow and steady cooking yields the best results.
Storing Your Leftovers
To store, allow the pones to cool completely, wrap them in aluminum foil, and place them in an airtight container in the fridge. Stored in the refrigerator, Corn Pone can stay fresh for up to a week. It’s also an excellent candidate for pre-preparation. Craft your Corn Pone in advance, refrigerate it, and reheat it when your taste buds yearn for its delightful flavors.
Variations to Explore
- Cheesy Corn Pone: Add a generous amount of cheddar cheese to the batter for an extra layer of flavor.
- Jalapeno Corn Pone: Mix in diced jalapenos for a hint of heat and a burst of color.
- Sweet Corn Pone: Incorporate a bit of sugar and some canned corn kernels for a sweeter version.
Now that you’ve learned how to make traditional corn pones, it’s time to put your skills to the test.
What do you think about this recipe, will you do it? Leave a comment below.
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