This is a classic recipe from the Horne side of the family in Backswamp, North Carolina. These corn cakes were always my absolute favorite growing up. Grammy made them all the time, and when her sister, Aunt Reba, would visit I’d always beg her to make them– she’s the one who taught Grammy. They’re really simple and cheap– this is what gastronomes call ‘peasant food’. If corn and pigs are what you have, this is a lot cheaper and easier than baking bread! They go with just about anything– and, added bonus, they’re gluten free and dairy free!
1 cup or so cornmeal (regular or roasted. Grammy brings ‘real cornmeal’ back with her every time she and Grandpa visit the kinfolk in NC.)
You can increase/decrease the amount of cornmeal depending on how much you want. Slowly add water, stirring, until you have a thin, soupy batter. If you think it’s too thin, it’s probably just right.
Heat oil in a pan. (Bacon fat in there wouldn’t hurt the flavor, either, especially if you’re having these with breakfast. I’m pretty sure that when Grammy was a kid these were cooked in lard.) The cast iron pan is good for this. When it’s nice and hot, spoon batter into the pan. One spoonful should give you a nice little 3-inch cake– you don’t want to go too big. The batter will spread out and the oil will bubble up through it, creating a very thin, lacy pancake. You can probably fit three in the pan at a time. Cook until golden brown. Keep an eye on these, since they cook very quickly. What you’re after here is a thin, delicate pancake that’s crispy and brown on the edges and spongy and golden in the middle. (If you use roasted cornmeal, it will be darker in color.) When crispy, lift out with a slotted spatula and move to a plate with a folded paper towel on it, to soak up the oil. Sprinkle kosher salt over them immediately– it will be soaked up quickly.
In my family we traditionally eat these as a side dish with dinner, along with meat and a vegetable. They’re also really good in the morning with eggs and bacon (and if you want to be unorthodox, some chipotle sauce, for which I will give you the recipe sometime this weekend). They’re easy and quick and quite adaptable, so you can get creative and serve them however you want– with beans and rice, with ceviche, as tostadas…. the possibilities are endless.