CLASSIC SOUTHERN CORNBREAD

Recipe courtesy of The Bear Cupboard (http://bearcupboard.blogspot.com)
Adapted from "Back to the Table," by Art Smith
Rating:  10 out of 10
 
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread (or oil or butter)
1-1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups stone-ground whole-grain cornmeal
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + 2 Tbsp. vinegar)
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus about 2-3 Tbsp. for the pan
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

In a medium skillet, saute Smart Balance and onions over medium-high heat till onions are wilted and beginning to brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low; add sage; stir; continue to cook another 10-15 minutes, or till onions are lightly browned.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Remove from heat and cool.

Pour 2-3 Tbsp. oil, or enough to cover the bottom of a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet.  Place the skillet on the center rack of oven and heat to 450F.  It will take almost 10 minutes to heat the pan and oil, plenty of time to mix the cornbread.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry igredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).  Make a well in the center.  In a medium bowl, whisk the liquids and cheese (buttermilk, eggs, oil, applesauce and cheddar), being sure the eggs are well combined. 

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, all at once, and stir with a spoon or spatula lightly, just barely combining everything.  Do not overbeat, and please don't worry about lumps. 

Using potholders, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour in the batter.  Return to oven and bake 20-25 minutes, or till bread springs back when pressed in the center.  Transfer to wire rack to let stand 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or bread board.  You can also serve this directly from the skillet, using a hot plate or trivet underneath the pan; but do be careful as the skillet will remain hot and should not be touched with bare hands.  Slice into wedges and serve with Smart Balance or butter.  Yield:  8 servings