FIG’s Jason Stanhope was so inspired by Geechie Boy Mill’s cornmeal, as well as the Edisto Island company’s branded 6-1/2 inch Lodge skillet, that he came up with two recipes. The traditional cornbread is best with just butter, honey and sea salt, but he suggests serving the sweet potato cornbread with citrus salad and buttermilk ice cream. While the recipes are sized for three small cast-iron skillets, they work just as well when the batter is baked in a single full-sized skillet. Finally, Stanhope says the traditional cornbread works best in a conventional oven, while a convection oven is preferred for the sweet potato version.
2-1/2 cups Geechie Boy yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
3 teaspoons unsalted butter (for cooking)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Store cast-iron skillets in oven until batter is ready.
Mix the dry ingredients. Warm the milk and 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Temper the beaten egg into the warm milk and butter mixture. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the buttermilk.
If working with 6-1/2-inch skillets, divide the batter into three 8-ounce cups.
Add 1 teaspoon of butter to one of the hot skillets. Roll the foamy butter around to coat the pan. Add batter portion to pan. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Repeat as many times as necessary. (If using a single, larger skillet, bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.)
Let the bread rest for 3 minutes. Invert the bread onto a cutting board and replace back into the pan, crispy side up. Cut into four equal pieces.
For the cornbread:
3 large sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil, and roast until they are tender.
Scoop out 1-1/2 cups of pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the butter while the potatoes are still warm and puree.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. Add the sweet potato puree to the egg mixture. Whisk in the yogurt, and then the cornmeal.
If working with 6-1/2-inch cast-iron skillets, divide the batter into three equal parts (it should yield three 1-cup portions). Butter the cold skillets and add 1 cup of batter to each. Bake for 30 minutes and serve immediately. (If using a single, larger skillet, bake for 40 minutes, or until the cornbread achieves the consistency of spoonbread.)
For the citrus salad:
1 blood orange
1 satsuma tangerine
Segment all citrus and reserve. Squeeze the cages for juice. Add juice and equal amount of sugar to saucepan; bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and pour over the segments.
For the buttermilk ice cream:
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups cream
3/4 cup sugar
6 large yolks
1 cup buttermilk
In a saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and cream with half of the sugar.
When the dairy is hot, beat the yolks with the other half of the sugar until the mix starts to increase in volume and turns a pale color.
Temper the milk into the yolks, a ladle at a time. Whisk constantly until all of the milk is incorporated.
Return the mixture to the saucepan; heat over medium heat and stir slowly, but constantly, until the mixture reaches 165 degrees or coats the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and cool in an ice bath.
When the mixture is cool, stir in the buttermilk. Let the ice cream base rest in the cooler for 4 hours. Spin in an ice cream machine and serve with the citrus salad and warm sweet potato cornbread.