How to make bacon-studded, creamy Southern corn pone with a delicate crisp

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
Corn Pone

About the Recipe

This recipe comes from Dave Smoke-McCluskey, an Augusta, Georgia-based chef and member of the Mohawk Nation whose mission is to unearth the true history of Indigenous American foodways.

He is also part of Corn Mafia, which produces small-batch hominy grits and masa using traditional methods. Learn more about this unique history and process, and order some masa for yourself, at www.instagram.com/cornmafia.

This is Smoke-McCluskey's modern version of an ancient way of cooking dried corn: hoecakes because they were often cooked on a hoe over fire. Southerners adapted the recipe, according to Smoke-McCluskey. 

Note: "The pones don’t have to be exactly perfect. Small cracks crisp up nicely for an added crunch," Smoke-McCluskey said. 

Hands On Time 40 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 slices of the best bacon you can find, diced

1 cup fresh corn, removed from the cob (frozen is fine)

2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup of whole milk

1 egg

2 cups Lyeing Mohawk Masa Harina 

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons bacon drippings or lard

1 green onion sliced thin

Hot sauce and or black pepper to taste

A few tablespoons of corn oil for shallow frying

Instructions

In a pan or skillet, slowly render the bacon over medium-low heat. Remove and reserve bacon when crisp, also separately reserving the drippings.

Add 4 tablespoons of the bacon drippings to another pan, along with the corn kernels. Cook corn kernels over medium heat for a few minutes, or until translucent. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream cheese to the warm corn mixture, allowing the cheese to soften. 

In a food processor or blender, puree the corn and cheese mixture, along with the milk and the egg, until relatively smooth. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the masa, salt, green onions and reserved bacon. Add the corn puree and mix together until a moist dough is formed, adding more masa or milk to reach consistency desired. You'll want your dough to loosely hold together. Season with salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste. 

Form dough into golf ball-sized balls. Flatten the dough balls so they’re about a half-inch thick.

Pour oil into a sauté pan and, over medium heat, slowly bring the temperature of the oil up to about 350. Add your dough disks to the preheated oil. Sauté until lightly browned and crisp, and drain on paper towels. Do not overcook. The insides should retain some moisture and have a slightly smooth texture that goes nicely with the crispy exterior. 

Serve warm as a side dish, or use a bit of that hot sauce and some mayonnaise mixed together with a squeeze of lime to make a quick sauce.