I was rummaging around for corn recipes last night (I seem to be hoarding piles of this season’s flawless local corn) when I stumbled upon a recipe for spoonbread written by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson. Although Lady Bird’s calls for baking soda and doesn’t use corn, I thought I could replace the majority of the cornmeal with fresh corn. I wasn’t in the mood for the flavor and texture one gets with baking soda, so instead I decided to separate the eggs and beat the whites for a lighter texture. The result? A sweet and savory souffle-like fluff of highfalutin’ heaven.
I have always been somewhat souffle-phobic. But as it turns out, by simply beating the egg whites I had just conquered that fear. I made a souffle without even realizing it.
Because of the cornmeal and crunchy fresh corn, this has more texture than a refined cheese souffle. It’s great as is, but the possibilities for additions are ample: grated cheese, chiles, roasted peppers, a handful of fresh herbs, a swirl of pesto. Mmm mmm. Thank you, Lady Bird.
3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
1/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal (see hints below)
2 cups organic milk
Butter the size of a walnut (according to Ladybird—I used about a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1. Preheat oven to 425. Combine the corn, cornmeal, butter, milk and salt in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until it gets thick.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then whisk in egg yolks.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and then gently fold into corn mixture.
4. Spread into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until spoonbread is puffed and golden.
5. Serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8.