Everybody has their own version of comfort food. We've told you about milk toast, an old-fashioned comfort food favorite where you toast buttered bread, tear it in chunks and pour milk over it. But ask a Southerner what their version of this favorite is and they'll tell you a different tale. If you grew up in the South, especially in the Appalachian region, you know it's cornbread and milk.
Cornbread is comfort food on its own. Served as part of so many meals, Southern cornbread is a staple. You can slather it with butter or mix in some cheddar cheese or some jalapeños, but no sugar (sweet cornbread is a muffin, not cornbread). But for a simple, comforting meal, all you need to do is crumble cornbread in a glass and pour cold milk over it.
You probably won't find a recipe for this dish, sometimes called a "crumble in" or "crumb-in," in a cookbook. It's not clear who the first person was to crumble cornbread and milk; it's one of those things passed down from generation to generation. And how you like your cornbread and milk can differ from family to family, too. Some folks like it with sweet milk, some whole milk, while others prefer the tang of buttermilk.
Cornbread and milk works best when you have a hearty cornbread. You can use a cornbread recipe with all yellow cornmeal instead of adding all-purpose flour to the dry ingredient mix, which creates a dense and flavorful cornbread. For the best crispy, golden brown cornbread, bake it in a cast-iron skillet. While you can use skillet cornbread fresh out of the oven, day-old cornbread is actually better if you're going to pour milk over it.
Most people who eat cornbread and milk keep it simple, but you can also drizzle a little bit of sorghum syrup or maple syrup on top if you want an extra touch of sweetness. Or if you want to go savory, you might sprinkle a little bit of black pepper on top.
Ready to try this Southern comfort food? Here's one of our favorite cornbread recipes. All you need to do is combine cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, two large eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a large bowl, then transfer to the cast iron skillet. Some recipes call for vegetable oil instead of butter, but we all know butter is the way to go. Make sure you preheat the skillet to get the crispy crust! Bake for about 20 minutes, cut a slab of cornbread, crumble it into a glass, pour cold milk on top and enjoy.
This post was originally published on May 22, 2020.