A dish popular in the South, the "bread" in "spoonbread" is somewhat of a misnomer as the consistency is more similar to a soufflé or pudding. Chef Tanya Holland of Bib Gourmand designée Brown Sugar Kitchen incorporates sautéed mushrooms, fresh thyme and Cheddar cheese into her version. The finished product achieves a light consistency from the whipped egg whites that are folded into the cornmeal batter before baking.
Herbed Mushroom SpoonbreadRecipe courtesy of Tanya Holland, The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3 shallots, minced
1 pound (455 grams) button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups (720 milliliters) whole milk
1 cup (140 grams) cornmeal
2 ounces (55 grams) Cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, separated
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 1 ½-quart (1.4 liter) baking or soufflé dish.
2. In a sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edges. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, reduce the heat to low, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the Cheddar cheese. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.
4. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form—the tips of the peaks curl down slightly when the beaters are lifted. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
5. Bake until the spoon bread is puffed and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Serve immediately.
Photos courtesy of Tanya Holland/Brown Sugar Kitchen.