I first tasted spoon bread as a very young girl growing up in Virginia, at the home of a friend whose mother was from Macon, Georgia. I can taste that spoon bread now, so light and fragrant. Here’s my version, recently updated to give it the tang of buttermilk, plus a bit of onion and just a hint of mace. Raw sweet corn kernels seal the deal. Enjoy! ;o) - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: AntoniaJames is a longtime Food52er and a lawyer to boot.
WHAT: A spoon bread that tastes like comfort.
HOW: Make a stovetop batter; whip up some egg whites, then fold them in; watch the whole thing rise as it bakes.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If spoon bread wasn’t a part of your childhood, as it was AntoniaJames’, it’s easy to feel left out. Don’t: Just make this version -- fluffy and lightly spiced and tangy from buttermilk -- as soon as possible. Call it making up for lost time. —The Editors
6 to 8 as a side, or 3 to 4 as a main
medium yellow onion, finely diced
unsalted butter (4 ounces or 1/2 cup)
whole milk (you can also use 2% if you prefer)
1 3/4 cups
finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
ground mace or freshly grated nutmeg
ground pink peppercorns
2 to 3 teaspoons
finely chopped fresh marjoram or thyme (or both) (optional)
In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the onion in about two tablespoons of butter and a good pinch of salt until soft and translucent.
Add the milks and heat until scalded. Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring all the while, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat a bit and cook for five minutes, continuing to stir.
Cut the remaining butter into small pieces (reserving a tiny bit for greasing the baking dish) and stir it into the cornmeal and milk batter. Add the sugar and the spices. Stir to blend, and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Position one rack right in the middle of the oven. Butter a medium-sized soufflé dish (or a round casserole with fairly straight sides).
Beat the egg yolks. (I do this in the measuring cup I used for the milks, to avoid having to wash another bowl.)
Add the corn kernels and the beaten egg yolks to the cornmeal batter. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste -- five or six good turns of your grinder should be enough.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form round (or "soft," as some say) peaks. The salt helps to stabilize to whites while beaten. Take a big dollop of the beaten egg whites and stir them into the cornmeal batter. Gently fold in the remaining beaten egg whites.
Turn into the prepared dish and cook in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your baking dish, until somewhat firm, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)