Occasionally I find myself standing in front of a pantry that I think looks scary empty; it feels like I am in a dark pit with giant spiders chasing me, all squealing for snack, supper, sustenance. In my weakest moments, I throw up my hands and trudge off to the store to find a quick fix. In braver moments I pause and think. And think. And pray. Surely the one who invented the idea of food can help me: a light in a dark pantry.
The truth dawns on me that the pantry is not empty. I have flour. I have milk. I have the ingredients to make baking powder even if I don’t have baking powder. I have any number of basic ingredients to make lovely food. Crepes. Biscuits. Silver dollar pancakes. Homemade syrup. Spoonbread. Suddenly I find that we are not desperately out of food, rather, I was just out of fresh ideas.
I give you spoonbread. Glorious humility.
2 c. milk
2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
1 T. unsalted butter
1 t. salt
4 eggs separated.
Separate eggs and whip the whites until they form peaks. Gently beat the yolks and set aside. Combine milk, cornmeal, salt and butter in a 3 qt. saucepan. Whisk over medium to medium low heat until the mixture begins to bubble and then thicken. Remove from heat and stir in egg yolks. Sitr the egg whites into the mix. You can gently fold them in, but I prefer to have them actually mixed in a bit so that I don’t get a big bite of egg. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish, about 9 inches round. Bake at 425 for 20-22 minutes, until golden and puffy. Serve immediately.
NOTE: I also enjoy adding corn to this recipe. During cooking time, just add 1 to 1 1 /2 c. tasty sweet corn (fresh, frozen, or as a last resort, canned.) You can find other spoonbread recipes online: Gourmet.com and Martha Stewart have great suggestions. Steer clear of the spoonbread recipes with jiffy corn bread mix and sour cream–tasty though they may be, they really aren’t spoonbread. Give the authentic southern version a go first.