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Front Page - Friday, July 29, 2016

Cornbread salad for picnics and potlucks!

Kay's Cooking Corner

Kay Bona

This past month, our church had two picnics, both of which were perfect! The weather was perfect, the food was perfect, and the fellowship was perfect!

To the first one, I carried a cornbread salad; to the second one, I didn’t have to take anything. Hubby and I just went and enjoyed the fun!

If you’ve never tried cornbread salad, I have a great recipe for you – and this is the best time of the year to try it. Cornbread salad in the summer is like chili in the winter – it’s a must-have! It’s like a cool, garden salad with southern charm. It’s also a potluck favorite.

My mother and grandmother taught me to make cornbread, although I’m not sure who taught me first. Maybe I just picked it up from watching both of them. Regardless, cornbread was a staple food in our house. We ate it almost daily, and for good reason – it’s good and fairly inexpensive. I had a few favorite meals with cornbread (and still do). One is pinto beans and fried potatoes with cornbread.

One of my other favorite cornbread meals was, and still is, white beans and cornbread, fresh sliced tomatoes, and onions – I mean fresh, as in straight from the garden. This is the stuff I was raised on, and I love it to this day.

One of my childhood memories is of my dad wandering into the kitchen a few hours after dinner, crumbling up a piece of leftover cornbread in a glass, and then pouring in enough milk to cover it. After he added a teaspoon or two of sugar, he would have one of his favorite comfort foods.

Another one was with white bread, a banana, and some milk. Tear a slice of white bread into pieces and put it into a glass. Slice some chunks of banana on top of that, and then add a bit of sugar. Cover the whole thing with some milk, and you have a perfect banana-milk-bread snack! These were two of my dad’s favorite after-dinner desserts!

I’m not sure where the recipes came from, and I’m not sure how good they might be. I Googled it, but came up with nothing. I guess this was such a “way-back” Southern thing that most people knew nothing about it. Maybe it has no history, or maybe it was just something people down on the farm would do. I don’t know, but it has history in our family, and with it, a lot of memories. Did anyone reading this ever have these after-dinner gourmet snacks or know about them? Just wondering. I haven’t tried this as an adult – I’m afraid my memories would be spoiled if I do! My oldest sister tried it, though, and her remark was, “Yuk! Don’t spoil your memory!”

Both my mom and my grandmother made cornbread the same way – the southern way. Heat the pan and bacon drippings to “sizzling,” then pour the bacon drippings into the cornbread batter, mix it really fast, and then pour the batter into the hot skillet. This method creates a deep, golden brown, crunchy crust!

We don’t eat a lot of bacon unless I’m fixing breakfast for visitors (my grandchildren). They love bacon, and we can go though quite a bit of it. So, when I do fix bacon, I always allow the drippings to cool some, then I pour them into a mini-cube ice tray and set them in the freezer. Later, I pop the cubes out of the tray and seal them in a zip-lock bag. When I need a teaspoon or two of drippings, I just grab a few out of the bag. It’s so easy! I realize people don’t use bacon drippings in much anymore because of the fat content, but seriously – using some bacon drippings occasionally is not that unhealthy. And having a pot of turnip greens without bacon drippings just ain’t natural!

Anyway, whether you save the drippings or not, try this salad – it’s delicious!

Cornbread salad

1 batch cornbread, cut into one-inch cubes 

1 (14.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob

1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 cups grated sharp cheddar

1 (8-ounce) bottle ranch dressing


4-6 slices bacon, fried and drained (reserve bacon for garnish)

1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons bacon drippings

1 cup self-rising cornmeal

3/4 cup self-rising flour

1 cup cream-style corn

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add the butter and bacon drippings to a cast iron skillet. Preheat the pan either in the oven or on the stove over medium-high heat.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring until combined. Remove skillet from oven, and pour hot drippings into batter. Stir well. Pour batter into preheated skillet. Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until brown.

Assembly: In the bottom of a large glass bowl, layer in order: cornbread, beans, fresh corn, onion, tomatoes, and cheese. Pour ranch dressing evenly over cheese. Crumble reserved bacon over top. If you need to double the recipe, make two layers. Cover, and refrigerate two hours.


Kay Bona is  an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.