Spoonbread Corn Pudding
If corn pudding and spoonbread had a baby.Print
During the fall months, and of course as Thanksgiving approaches we all find ourselves searching for just the perfect side dish recipes. We want recipes that will be at home next to a roasted chicken or turkey, a beef roast, a ham, recipes that are crowd-pleasers, recipes that shimmer with the glow of comfort food. We want side dishes that people inch towards them while contemplating a second helping.
This is just such a side dish. I knew I wanted something corn-based, and then got a bit torn between spoonbread and corn pudding. Both dishes are very popular in the South, and appear annually on holiday dinner tables. Basically spoonbread is cornbread that is soft enough to eat with a spoon, with a cornmeal base. Corn pudding is more of an egg and dairy based pudding with corn kernels studded throughout. I couldn’t decide. So I combined both thoughts into one dish. Let’s just say the “should I have seconds?” question was answered in the affirmative. Purists from the South might cock an eyebrow at me…..I invite them to give it a shot (and acknowledge cheerfully that strict culinary authenticity is not my strongest suit).
Whipping the eggs whites is an extra step, but one that ensures that the resulting dish with be light and fluffy, while not missing a beat in the substance department. You do want to serve this dish warm from the oven, so that it holds its slightly soufflé-like texture. Having said that, a scoop or two reheated in the microwave the next day, paired with a green salad tossed with vinaigrette, is one of the finer lunches I can imagine.
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing dish
- 3¼ cups whole milk, divided
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears of corn, or frozen kernels, drained)
- Large pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a shallow 1½ or 2-quart baking dish.
2. Combine the butter, 3 cups milk, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan, and heat over medium high heat. When it comes to a simmer, and the butter is melted, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the cornmeal in a slow steady drizzle, whisking all the while. Whisk in the corn kernels and cayenne and continue whisking for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and turn into a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs yolks and remaining ¼ cup milk, and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl using an electric mixer (or a clean whisk if you have the stamina) beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until the peaks are stiff, but not dry or separating.
4. Add about ½ cup of the cornmeal mixture to the bowl with the egg yolks and stir quickly to combine. Turn the yolk mixture into the bowl with the rest of the cornmeal mixture and whisk to combine. Fold about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the cornmeal mixture, which will lighten the batter, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites so that they are almost incorporated – you will see a white streak or two, which is fine.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until the top is browned and puffy. When you shake the pan the spoonbread should juggle slightly, not too much so that it looks liquidy in the middle. Remove and cool slightly on a wire rack, then serve warm.