Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Easy Spoon Bread -- one of my Most Favorites

I like to reserve my last post of the year for sharing one of my favorite recipes.  Previously I have given you my Spiced Cranberry Sauce, Sweet-n-Hot Mustard, and Sweet Potato Apple Souffle.

This year I want to give you a recipe out of the same book the souffle recipe is in:  The Mount Vernon Cookbook.

ISBN 0-931917-13-1
I obtained this book in 1999 when on a family trip to East Coast of the United States.  We were visiting mostly Colonial American sites (but of course we visited Hershey, PA) and my souvenirs tend to be cookbooks!  It more like a Ladies' Group cookbook as not all the recipes are considered from the colonial period but they certainly are proven and loved by other home cooks.

I first tried this recipe in April 1999 when I left a note saying, "We love this more than cornbread!"  I have made it many times since.

Easy Spoonbread (page 157)

1 cup self-rising corn meal*  
1 teaspoon shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten

And water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 3 ingredients with 2 cups of water in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until smooth and thick, stirring constantly.  

Stir in milk.  Add eggs and beat well.  Pour into greased baking dish.  Bake 30 minutes or until set.

My Notes

*I don't normally keep self-rising corn meal around so I put 1 teaspoon baking powder into a 1 cup measure and then add corn meal to fill the cup.

For a greased baking dish I used a greased cast iron skillet.  In the past I have used various dishes and they all work well, as long as the batter doesn't fill it too close to the top.

I think it is "set" when there are some golden brown areas on the surface and a knife inserted into the middle comes out somewhat clean.  The middle shouldn't jiggle much when the pan is shaken, either.

The puffy parts tend to fall while the spoonbread is cooling.

Keep in mind this is a very moist dish and not like your usual cornbread.

The Verdict

Success!  This is a "most favorite" because it is good!  It is moist, creamy, and pretty neutral in overall taste so it makes a good accompaniment to meats and stews.  It is also excellent as a breakfast mush, served hot with butter, syrup, jam, or a good gravy.  Sometimes I pour milk on it, too.

The only failures I have had were when I didn't cook the first three ingredients until "smooth and thick", so the middle of the spoonbread never set.  Well, we just ate around the liquidy parts.

One teaspoon of salt makes the dish taste a little salty, so if you don't like that, consider using less. I usually think about what I am serving it with and decide if salty is appropriate or not.  In this case I used the full amount because I was serving it with a lovely chicken and vegetable stew.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can modify to being a perfect side dish.  Add herbs, spices, peppers, or crumbled cheese just before putting it in the oven.  It could even be a meat-free main dish with the right sauce.  Well worth trying and playing with.

Enjoy and I wish you an excellent 2016!

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