I was ranting in a Chowhound posting about the impossibility of finding "real" cornbread in the LA area (where it's always some kind of sweet cake-like substance), and someone asked if I'd post a recipe to this board. This is the best of several I have.
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow, as preferred)
2 Tbs self-rising flour
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 huge egg
1 Tbs bacon grease
2 Tbs vegetable shortening
Put the fats into an 8" iron skillet; set skillet in a cold oven, and turn the oven on to preheat to 425º.
Beat egg with salt and soda. Beat in cornmeal and flour. Add buttermilk, stir to blend into a batter. When the oven is up to temperature, pour the melted grease into the batter, beat it in, then quickly pour it into the hot skillet. Set skillet on oven's bottom shelf for 5 minutes, then on the top shelf for 12.
Notes: if you don't have self-rising flour, use all-purpose and add 1/4 tsp baking powder. If you'd rather not use bacon grease, add shortening; if you'd rather not use hydrogenated shortening, use lard; if you don't have any buttermilk stir 1 Tbs of white vinegar into a cup of milk and let sit at room temperature for half an hour.