This is a quintessential Southern side dish. It is a cross between a creamy side and a soft, fluffy cornbread. You can serve it alongside stews and braised meats, because it makes a great vessel to sop up gravy. Dating back to the mid-1800s, spoon bread generally consisted of cornmeal, butter, salt and milk. It is sweetened with a little sugar and enriched with egg yolks. Egg whites are then beaten till fluffy and folded in to create a light dish similar to corn souffle. We liked incorporating sautéed onion and dried thyme to add a little more flavor. You can also add cheese to the cornmeal mixture to punch up the flavor even more.
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onions
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2½ cups whole or low-fat milk
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9-by-9-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a heavy sauce pot, melt the butter, and add the onions, salt, pepper, sugar and dried thyme. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat or until the onions are very tender.
Add in the milk and bring it up to a slight simmer. To prevent the cornmeal from lumping, quickly whisk in the cornmeal and continue stirring over the heat until the mixture is thick and smooth. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Allow the mixture to cool.
While the mixture is cooling, separate the eggs into 2 bowls.
Whisk the egg yolks and baking powder together and then stir this into the cooled cornmeal mixture.
Use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cornmeal mixture. Carefully spoon everything into the greased casserole dish.
Bake the spoon bread for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden and the center is set. Serve right out of the oven with butter.
This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue of 225 magazine.