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Still life with spoonbread

Still life with spoonbread

She agrees with James Beard that "Spoon Bread" is two words, though I prefer it as "spoonbread." After I tried her spoonbread recipe, though, I believe I should lay down all resistance and raise a corny memorial in her honor. Maria Polushkin Robbins walks familiar ingredients through a strange set of steps to yield the lightest and best tasting spoon bread I have yet made. This recipe from American Corn has stolen my allegiance away from the venerable Mr. Beard's recipe, which has guided all my adult spoonbread-making until now. Fluff this up and enjoy:

2 tablespoons butter 1 cup cornmeal (I use Weisenberger Mill White Unbolted - fantastic!) 3 cups milk 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 3 tablespoons butter 3 egg yolks 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart ovenproof casserole or souffle´dish with 2 tablespoons of butter.

In a large bowl, stir the cornmeal into 1 cup of milk until well mixed. Bring the other 2 cups of milk just to the boil and remove from heat. Stir salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons butter into hot milk. Slowly stir hot milk into the cold milk and cornmeal mixture. Return to saucepan and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Beat in the three egg yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into cornmeal mixture. Turn mixture out into the large greased casserole and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Serve immediately. You will need a large serving spoon to "spoon" soufflélike bread onto the plates.

Yield: 6 servings

Variations:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons chopped scallions to the batter, before adding egg whites.
  2. Fold in 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn) and 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño pepper, before adding egg whites.
  3. Fold in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, or any other grated cheese, before adding egg white.

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