Dad’s Hot Water Cornbread and Beans

This is a real treat in our house: Hot Water Cornbread. My dad ate this dish growing up when he would visit family in Oklahoma. He says it’s “just always what we had”.

It’s definitely one of my favorite family dishes. And it’s not a pretty sight when we all get a heaping plate of this crispy, buttery cornbread and soft Great Northern beans. Dad piles beans on top of his corn bread, douses the stack in white vinegar, relish and ketchup. These aren’t required ingredients, but trust me, it’s the only way to eat this homey dish. And for dessert, Dad spreads the cornbread with a pat of butter and  Red Plum Jelly.

Dad’s Hot Water Cornbread


2 cups, or one pound, of stone ground cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups water, boiling

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat, with enough oil to cover more than the bottom of the skillet.

Mix all dry ingredients well.

Start pouring about one cup of the boiling water into the dry mixture. Stir, and add more water until mixture is pasty.

To test oil: take a small pinch of the cornbread dough and drop into the hot oil. If the oil does not bubble, turn up the heat a little, and test again. If the cornbread dough turns crispy and dark too fast, let your oil cool, and test again.

When oil is ready, roll about two tablespoons of the cornmeal mixture into a ball, and flatten.

Slowly drop into the skillet. Let fry about 2 minutes, or until golden, before flipping. Try to only flip it once, or you risk soaking up a lot of oil.

Total cook time should be about 5 minutes per patty.

Pat dry with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Great Northern Beans


1 pound Great Northern beans

6 cups of water

2 cups of chicken stock

2 Tablespoons salt

1 hamhock

Salt and pepper

Rinse and sort beans.

Put beans, 2 Tablespoons of salt, and water into large pot and bring to boil.

Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover, and let sit for one hour.

Add hamhock, and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil. Reduce temperature to a simmer, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours.

My dad is a great cook and has a comprehensive understanding of contrasting flavors and textures. He is technical, inventive and enjoys hand-making food from scratch, which has greatly inspired the way that I cook. Most importantly, he enjoys serving and pleasing others.

Happy Father’s Day!


Filed under Blog

2 responses to “Dad’s Hot Water Cornbread and Beans

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your dad! This recipe sounds like pure comfort food, and there is nothing better than that for Father’s Day.

    Thanks for sharing!

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