Fresh Corn Spoon Bread

Let me get this out of the way. This isn’t really bread.

It’s more or less a souffle with corn meal. It’s best eaten with a spoon. It’s very southern, very simple, and all about corn, which was the main appeal.

Summer is full of food like this.  In the Midwest, the farmers’ markets are bursting with possibilities. Right now sweet corn is one of them. In about a month corn will be about over. I came across this recipe Friday night and wanted to try it immediately.

Sweet corn reminds me of my childhood. Summertime was lightning bugs, swimming, and corn from my dad’s garden. He would pick a few ears as my mom heated the water. She’d shuck, boil and serve the corn minutes later. I’d smear some butter and a little salt, and eat it with mini-plastic corn cobs sticking out the sides.  There was nothing like it. Sadly, I can’t grow corn in our tiny garden. Farmers’ market corn is a close second. Supermarket corn doesn’t come close.

Spoon bread in some corners of the south is like clam chowder in New England. Everyone claims theirs is the best. They all have cornmeal and milk as a base, and eggs of course.  Don’t let the souffle comparison here scare you. Spoon bread is simple to make. It doesn’t take much time (about 30 minutes active time) and will impress the heck out of anyone who tastes it. The recipe here says serve immediately. Like a souffle, spoon bread will deflate. However, as long as it’s still warm, you should be OK. I made this as a side to some grilled fish Saturday night. Sunday morning, I took the leftovers out of the fridge, stuck part of the spoon bread in the microwave, and it was still moist and delicious.

Fresh Corn Spoon Bread
Gourmet, July 2002

2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 ears)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bring milk, cornmeal, corn kernels, butter, and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then whisk in yolks.

Beat whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer at medium speed just until soft peaks form. Whisk one fourth of whites into cornmeal mixture in pan to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in a buttered 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate or 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole and bake in middle of oven until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately (like a soufflé, spoon bread collapses quickly).


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