Here is another dish that I plan to make for Thanksgiving. It is a spoonbread, which is basically a cross between a custard and a cornbread. If you have gluten-free eaters to feed on Thanksgiving this is a very good starch to serve. It is an old fashioned American dish that is traditionally made without wheat flour, so no one will feel deprived. This particular spoonbread also leans toward being a cornmeal soufflé, since it is made fluffy with the addition of whipped egg whites. Don’t let the soufflé part frighten you. Even if it fails to poof up, you will have a delicious savoury spoonbread with a nice tang from the buttermilk.
I clipped this recipe out of the newspaper in Tennessee. I use chives instead of scallions (although both are lovely, I prefer chives). I added a tiny bit of cayenne pepper, which I often do to these sorts of old-fashioned, dairy based dishes. I also used cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites. Cream of tartar is not crucial, but if you are attached to having a dramatic, well puffed soufflé it really helps.
I also tried it all sorts of different sizes and shapes of soufflé and casserole dishes. If you want it to puff up a real soufflé dish is needed. That said, the spoonbread looked very nice baked up in a cast iron skillet too. I liked the tiny soufflé made in ramekins, but I think that the size of these individual servings might be too big for Thanksgiving. This recipe should be enough for 8-12 people as part of a Thanksgiving meal.
BUTTERMILK CHIVE SPOONBREAD
serves 8-12 as part of a Thanksgiving meal.
Adapted from a recipe by Nancy Vienneau that I cut out of the local newspaper in Maryville, Tennessee.
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow or white cornmeal
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter the soufflé dish
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 bunch of chives, snipped (1 or 2 oz/about 2/3 cup, snipped)
- 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, but helpful)
- Preheat oven to 375 (If your oven runs cool, crank it up to 400). Butter the sides and bottom of a 6-cup soufflé dish, casserole dish or cast iron skillet, or divide between 8 mini soufflé dishes.
- Warm buttermilk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cornmeal. Cook, stirring often, until mixture is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter and salt and remove from heat. Let it cool completely (this cooling step is important).
- Whisk egg yolks, chives, cayenne and black pepper into cornmeal mixture.
- In a large clean bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the cornmeal mixture to lighten it. Then add the other 2/3 folding gently to avoid deflating.
- Scrape mixture into prepared dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until puffed, golden brown and still ever so slightly giggly in the center. Serve immediately for dramatic soufflé effect. or reheat later as a spoonbread.