This entry is for all the corn lovers out there. And for my lovely friend Nicki. She, like myself, can appreciate a good dose of cornmeal now and then. Maybe it's because I was raised in the Midwest, or maybe my mom ate a lot of corn while I was in the womb, but more likely, I am addicted to corn because it's sweet and tasty, and it appears in so many culinary guises that you could eat it every day and never tire of it. I will of course mention that there is one corn product I avoid at all costs; high-fructose corn syrup. The evils of this substance are widely known, so I will not bore you with my opinion on the matter.
While most people would dare not deny that corn on the cob, in the sweet days of late summer, is one of life's great pleasures, I'd like to draw your attention to the oft-underappreciated grain, cornmeal, and more specifically, the stone-ground variety. The difference between supermarket variety cornmeal and stone-ground cornmeal is that the stone-ground still retains the germ of the dried kernel, which translates to greater flavor, and a better nutritional profile.
This weekend Dustin and I decided to cook up a good old Southern meal, featuring barbequed chicken, greens with vinegar, and Vermont-Cheddar Spoonbread; a recipe I've had marked in my Best of Cooking Light cookbook since I got it 3 years ago. I might have chosen to accompany the meal with one of my favorites, Cornlight Bread, or the excellent Fresh-Corn Polenta I made last week, but I was in the mood to dabble in the unknown....and I'm glad I did. The spoonbread had all the best qualities of cornbread, but was light and slightly eggy, making a savory companion to the chicken and greens.
Vermont Cheddar Spoonbread
Adapted from Cooking Light
Cooking spray for dish
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or 2%)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded sharp Vermont Cheddar, (Parmesan or Asiago would be great, too), or more to taste
Chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, optional
Fresh Corn Kernels, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a one-quart souffle dish with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoon cornmeal.
Combine 1/2 cup cornmeal, milk, salt, and black pepper in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Gradually stir 1/2 cup hot cornmeal mixture into egg yolk, and add to remaining cornmeal mixture, stirring constantly. Pour into a large bowl; cool completely.
Beat egg whites at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites and cheese into cornmeal mixture, and any additional herbs or vegetables. Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until puffy and browned. Serve immediately.
Serves 4, or 2 people who really love corn.