Half souffle, half easy casserole, spoon bread is a longtime Southern favorite. This lively version makes no claim to authenticity, but it is good as a side dish with grilled or roasted chicken, pork and fish.
Try using other cheese in this as well: Grated fontina, while completely different, gives an excellent result.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1/3 cup finely chopped dried cherries
- 4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease an 8-inch square (or 2-quart) baking dish.
Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter, sherry, salt, cayenne pepper and oregano in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the cheese and cherries. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly cooled.
Separate the egg whites and yolks. Beat the yolks in a small bowl, then stir them into the cornmeal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on high speed just until soft peaks form.
Stir one-third of the beaten egg whites into the cornmeal mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a few quick strokes; some white streaks will remain. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned and the center is slightly loose (a knife inserted into center should come out clean).
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from "The Feast Nearby," by Robin Mather (Random House, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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