The Old Mill Cornbread & a little Southern Heritage

If you caught my earlier post about our recent trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you should remember seeing a few photos of one my most favorite restaurants, The Old Mill Restaurant. It’s located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in The Old Mill Square. The entire place is picturesque Appalachia, with a general store and other specialty shops. You can find more info on their website here.

One of their biggest claims to fame is still stone-grinding their own grains with the water-powered gristmill attached to the restaurant. Seriously, read this short summary of its history. Awesome stuff.

Anyway, I say all this to say on our recent trip to The Old Mill my mom convinced me to buy a bag of yellow corn meal to make cornbread like her and my Nanny (grandmother). I had a slight freak out because I’ve never made homemade cornbread before, just the Jiffy mix stuff (NOT to knock Jiffy mix… the stuff is great, just not stone ground corn meal). In her ever so calm self, Mom told me to flip over the bag of corn meal, in which I found a recipe. Freak out over.

Yesterday, I made my first ever homemade pone of cornbread. Yes, it’s called a ‘pone’ of cornbread. Or ‘corn pone‘, whichever you prefer.

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I started by measuring out 2-cups of my yellow corn meal into a large mixing bowl. I then mixed in the milk and egg. I mixed the milk and egg together before adding to the meal.

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I melted my butter (I still cannot cave and use shortening, sorry Nanny) and mixed it into the meal mixture. While I was mixing everything together, my oven and pan preheated at 400-degrees. Heating the pan is important to do before pouring in the meal, per the recipe.

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After adding the meal mix to my heated pan, I popped it back in the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes. My oven took about 34-minutes.

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That was it! And of all that is good and holy, this cornbread was amazing. I honestly didn’t want to eat it but just set it up on my window sill for decoration. But alas, the smell of freshly baked cornbread was too tempting and we had to eat it. There is such a major difference when using quality corn meal. If you ever find yourself within a 50-mile vicinity of Pigeon Forge, you seriously have to go to The Old Mill Restaurant. You won’t be displeased. And you will leave ridiculously full of classic and delicious Southern food. I can’t wait to try mixing things up a little by using buttermilk and mixing in sharp cheddar, jalapeños, and sweet yellow corn in my next pone. Hello Mexican cornbread (at least that’s what we call it in Northeast Alabama… probably not the most politically correct name).

So do any of you have any classic and unique foods that define your region of the US? I’m curious to know!

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