Corn Pone is a form of cornbread normally made without milk or eggs. It is normally baked or fried. Where corn pone came from is contested in the history books. It is well documented that it was used by both armies during the Civil War, so both the North and the South at least agreed on one thing! It’s also something that was cooked and eaten by pioneers.
Most of the modern recipes we see for corn pone use milk and eggs. This is really just corn bread. Older recipes for corn pone leave out the milk and eggs. The people were poor and often just scraping by.
Here is an old corn pone recipe.
4 cups ground white or yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt
2-3 cups of very hot, but not boiling, water
Up to 1/2 cup bacon grease or other oil
In a large bowl, add the hot water to the corn meal and mix into a thick batter. Cover with a dishcloth and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The batter should still be soft enough to mold into a small cake about the size of the palm of your hand. If not add a bit more water. Take your cake and shove three fingers into the middle, if the batter holds the fingerprints, the batter is just right. If not, adjust the water or corn meal as necessary.
Take your cast iron skillet and put it over a medium heat on the stove or over your fire, add the bacon grease or oil. When the oil is hot lay the cakes into the pan. Cook them until they are browned on one side, this should take about 3 minutes. Turn each and brown on the other side. Drain the fat and serve.
Corn pone can be fried as above or baked in a Dutch oven. If you have ham, bacon, or chili peppers, they can be added as an option. I love it with chopped up jalapeno peppers mixed in the batter.
As one old boy said, “This was a get-by recipe, when you had nothing else. If you were lucky enough to have butter or jam it tasted plenty good.” In the days of the Great Depression, sometimes this would be a meal in itself.