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Spoonbread

Spoonbread sounds rural and Southern. Which explains why only one New Orleans restaurant (Dante’s Kitchen) serves it. Spoonbread is to corn bread what bread pudding is to bread. It can be made sweet (for breakfast or a near-dessert) or savory (as a side dish). This one is in the latter category. The best way to bake this is in small baking dishes, about the size of custard cups. Individual gratin dishes also work well.

  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 ear very fresh corn
  • 2 oz. tasso, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 3 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

1. Combine the half-and-half, butter, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the cornmeal and cook, stirring, until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

2. Cut the corn off the cob. Add the corn, tasso, and bell peppers and stir to mix. Let the mixture cool for about ten minutes.

3. Beat the egg yolks and stir them in until they disappear. With a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture.

4. With the spatula, spoon about 3/4 cup of the mixture into small baking dishes. (You could also bake the entire batch in one dish, as long as the mixture is no more than an inch and a half deep.) Smooth the top of the mixture and put the baking dishes into the 300-degree oven.

5. Bake the spoonbread at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes. It should not get crusty except around the edges. The center should be set and firm, but not crumbly.

Serve with a spoon stuck into the spoonbread.

Serves four to six.

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