Harold’s Cracklin’ Cornbread


From The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas, John Wiley and Sons Inc.

For ages, fans (bluebloods and commoners alike) have been going to Harold’s Barbecue in Atlanta as much for the cracklin’ cornbread and Brunswick stew as for the chopped pork barbeque—despite the restaurant’s tacky décor and no-booze policy. And yes, the cornbread, made with buttermilk, lard, and bits of salt pork cracklin’, is truly exceptional. No careful separate blending of the dry and wet ingredients at Harold’s: They just dump all the ingredients in a big tub, stir away till well blended, scrape the batter into large pans, and bake till the cornbread is feather soft with a slightly crusty top. Sublime.

1 cup finely diced salt pork
3 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups regular buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup lard, melted
2 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a large baking pan or dish with butter, and set aside.

2. In a skillet, fry the salt pork over moderate heat till well browned and crisp, about 10 minutes, then drain the cracklin’s on paper towels.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and stir till thoroughly blended. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan or dish, and bake till golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 6 to 8.