On these very cold days I’m looking for substance… and I find it with whole grains. Not just ‘stone-ground’ bags of feed, I like my grains whole. Wheat berries, oat groats, corn kernels, that’s what I’m talking about. If I don’t use them in their whole form, I grind them right when I need them, which keeps the vitamin-rich germ fresh. (The germ is usually removed in pre-ground grains to extend shelf-life.)
Today, I’m making old-fashioned spoon bread. A bit like like corn souffle, spoon bread differs in that it has no wheat flour–just good, honest, corn. It’s hard to find the whole dried kernels around here (as much as I see it growing in the fields all around), so I order the non-GMO variety online at Rovey Seed and keep it in my freezer. One more note… Whenever I can, I cook corn in heavily oiled cast iron. It makes the perfect crunchy crust and it just adds to the look of the thing.
Corn and Onion Spoon Bread
- 1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter a soufflé dish, bowl, or ramekins. Combine the cornmeal and 1/2 cup of the milk in a small bowl. Stir to moisten the cornmeal.
Melt the butter in a wide saucepan. Add the onion and toss to coat. Stir over medium heat until the onion is tender. Pour in the remaining 2 cups milk, and heat to a scald (not yet boiling but surface wrinkles.) Gradually stir in the cornmeal–milk mixture. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is very thick.
Add the baking powder, salt, and pepper, to the cornmeal mixture. Blend well. Beat the egg yolks in one at a time, then stir in the fresh corn. Add the beaten egg whites and fold together. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 35 to 45 minutes (20 for the ramekins), until bread is puffed and richly browned. Serve immediately.
*From Judy Gorman’s Breads of New England