The standard recipe for hot water cornbread calls for mixing cornmeal with hot water and frying it. Some recipes call for adding ingredients such as bacon grease or salt.
To make the standard hot water cornbread recipe, heat 1 cup water to the boiling point. Meanwhile, pour cooking oil into the bottom of a pan so that it rises 1/4-inch up the side. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until the surface shimmers, which is the appropriate frying temperature.
Add enough self-rising cornmeal to the boiling water to make a thick batter. Mix well. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. Use a spatula to flatten the batter. Cook until the cornbread biscuits are golden on one side, and then flip over. Keep frying until the other side is golden brown.
Remove the cornbread biscuits from the oil, and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, and allow it to heat up to the correct frying temperature again before cooking more biscuits.
Another version of the recipe calls for mixing 1 cup white cornmeal with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1 tablespoon bacon grease and 3/4 cup boiling water. Shape this batter into small patties. Fry the patties in hot oil as directed above.