Spoonbread has been a favorite comfort food since American Colonial times, a sort of a creamy cross between cornbread and souffle. It’s fun to make and it uses the cornmeal introduced to the early settlers by the generous indigenous people.
This luscious version of classic spoonbread kicks it up a notch with jalapeno peppers and a little red onion, but you can make the plain version too. It’s completely seasonal and delicious either way.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus butter for coating the baking dish)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of sugar
1/2 cup minced red onion (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a deep (3 inch) 1 1/2 quart baking or souffle dish, or a deep cast-iron skillet.
2. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form; set them aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1 cup of the milk. In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining milk until steaming hot. Add the cornmeal mixture to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat, until the mixture thickens (you’ll begin to see the bottom of the pan as you whisk), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the salt, sugar, and butter.
4. Add the yolk yolks one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Add optional ingredients, if using, and stir to combine. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
5. Bake until the spoon bread is puffed, with a golden brown crust, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve with soft butter.
Serves 4 to 6.