Way back when I was a child, it was customary to have the minister and his family over to your home every so often, for Sunday dinner. It gave the pastor's wife the chance to rest without cooking, and helped you to really get to know your minister as well.
My family was no different. I often remember Mom having the pastor to Sunday dinner.
When I was younger, Mom would fry up two chickens ahead of time and then warm them in the oven before serving them. (We didn't have a microwave until after I got married!) She'd often serve baked beans, or pinto beans as a side dish. Cornbread of course, Maybe potato salad, or macaroni salad. Some greens. Sweet tea. And a cake for dessert.
Back then, unless you went to the butcher and had it cut up, your chicken came whole. The neck and giblets (liver, heart, and gizzards) came stuffed into the cavity of the bird.
It would start out looking like this:
And it ended up looking like this:
It was my Daddy who taught me how to cut up chicken. He said he used to cut it up for my Grandma when he was growing up. So whenever he was away at sea, it became my official/unofficial job to cut up the chicken for Mama to cook.
And my Mama, who had little talent in the cooking department, could do this superbly! I loved her fried chicken!
Mama used her electric skillet. She said it was because she could set the exact temperature on it, and get the chicken to come out cooked crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. And she certainly knew her strengths in that department, because this is about the only thing Mama made repeatedly for the Pastor, until I got older.
As a teen we moved to the country. And Mama's Sunday dinner for the pastor changed. She cooked pinto beans in the pressure cooker with some ham, or ham pieces. And my skills were still needed. It was my job to always make the cornbread.
To suit Mama, the cornbread had to be the only recipe she knew. I wasn't supposed to try anything different. Her recipe worked, and wasn't no sense trying to fix something that wasn't broke!
It had to be baked in a well seasoned skillet. (I still use Mama's skillet to this day!)
After it was baked, it was allowed to cool for a few minutes, then inverted on plate and sliced for serving before placing it on the table.
The recipe? I'll never forget it. It's about as simple as it comes. And no, it's not the healthiest version, but it is the tastiest!
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
1 cup stone ground cornmeal (the really gritty stuff)
1 cup self-rising flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
In a separate bowl mix 1 -1/2 cup of sweet milk or buttermilk and 2 eggs. Then mix with dry ingredients.
Place the skillet on the stove burner and melt 1/2 cup lard in the skillet (yes, I said lard). Once melted, swirl the liquid lard all around the interior of the skillet, and poor off the liquid into cornbread mixture and stir well.
Pour the batter into the skillet.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Thank you Mama. It's still the best cornbread I've ever eaten!