I was craving greens and ham this week and cornbread seemed like a good companion. I visualized them baked in a cast iron frying pan and looking deliciously southern. I found two recipes and worked with them to adapt my ideas with theirs. I ended up with a frying pan of southern goodness! Not bad for a woman who lives so far North she’s almost Canadian!
I used canned collard greens that my P.S. had picked up on sale somewhere. They’d been haunting me from the cupboard for several months and I was finally ready to make them shine. He likes collard greens and I honestly had never made them myself.
I started by dicing up 4 strips of bacon and frying them with a diced onion. I wanted them browned and caramelized to make the flavors shine with the collard greens which tend to have strong flavors.
I remembered Carla Hall’s tip on The Chew and sprinkled some baking soda on the onion mixture to make it brown more evenly and quickly. It changes the pH in the onions, she said. It worked well, they were nicely browned in about 20 minutes.
I had about 2 cups of shredded ham leftover from making ham broth with two ham bones I had. I ended up with some lovely ham broth and was surprised to pick out that many bits of ham from the bones after I drained off the broth. I added it to the skillet.
I had drained the collard greens and pressed as much of the liquid out of them as I could. I added them to the skillet along with garlic powder and 1/2 cup of ham broth to keep the meat moist.
Then I changed direction and decided to drag out my big ole cast iron frying pan and make a cornbread layer over the ham and bacon. I wanted to put it in the oven and bake so cast iron was necessary. I let the pan heat then poured the meat mixture into the cast iron pan. I added slices of butter over the top for some extra flavor.
I found a cornbread recipe and mixed up a quick batch and spread it over the meat in the pan. My oven was preheated to 425 degrees F and I slid my skillet into the oven.
My cornbread took about 30 minutes to be set and baked. I removed the skillet from the oven and let it set for a few minutes.
I admit I gasped when I scooped out the first serving of cornbread and ham. It looked beautiful and the smell was intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to dig in!
My P.S. was as happy with dinner as I was, having a large serving of the dish. He’s almost a bigger fan of cornbread and ham than I am! He agreed that it seemed like we were dining somewhere down South, you don’t usually eat this combination of ingredients up North.
Skillet Cornbread with Collard Greens and Ham
1 27 ounce can southern style collard greens
4 strips bacon; diced
1 medium onion; diced
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups shredded ham
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup ham broth (or any kind of broth)
Preheat oven to 425°
In a large cast iron skillet sauté the onions and bacon with baking soda until browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Drain collard greens well, pressing out as much moisture as possible in a strainer. Add to the caramelized onions and bacon. Add shredded ham, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and broth. Heat through until bubbling, letting the moisture mostly cook off.
Slice butter into 5 or 6 slices and place over collard greens.
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 large egg; beaten
2 cups cornmeal
Beat milk and egg with a whisk. Slowly whisk in melted butter. Use a spoon to stir in the cornmeal, taking care not to over mix – a few lumps are fine.
Spread over collard green mixture. Place in preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. The crust should be a beautiful golden brown.
Collard greens adapted from Food Republic
Skillet cornbread adapted from Deep Fried Kudzu