South Pittsburg is the perfect home of the festival because it’s also the home of Lodge Cast Iron cookware. Any good Southern cook (or fan of good Southern cooking) can tell you that cornbread has to be made in cast iron. I have two Lodge cast-iron pans myself (both originally belonging to my great-grandmother), including a wedge pan that is specifically made for cornbread baking. Though according to my mother, my forebears would not be pleased at my inclusion of yellow cornmeal. I come from a long line of sugar-less, white cornmeal cornbread makers; my husband and his family are mostly sweet yellow cornbread eaters.
If you’ve got a great cornbread pan and an even better cornbread recipe (using Martha White cornbread mix), then you should think about entering the cook-off. Note, though, that a simple cornbread probably won’t win you a prize. Last year’s winners were Sweet Cornbread Shrimp Cakes with Mango Salsa, Sweet Yellow Cornbread, Sausage & Tomato Pie with a Garlic Cream Drizzle; and Marvelous Mediterranean Chicken Sausage Cornbread Dinner. Nicki Pendleton Wood mentioned some previous winning recipes in this post, too. And all these folks walked away with some fantastic prizes for their efforts. This year’s first-prize package includes $5,000 cash; a 30-inch stainless steel gas range from Five Star Professional Cooking Equipment, and gifts from Lodge Cast Iron and Martha White. Second and third prizes are nothing to sneeze at, either.
If you think you’ve got a winning recipe, you’ve only got a couple of days to submit your entry. The deadline for entering the competition is this Thursday, Feb. 28. A panel will then review each recipe and invite finalists to the actual competition. The entry form and rules are on the Martha White website. Good luck!