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In the American South, spoon bread is a vital part of the cultural and culinary tradition. Calling it bread is a slight misnomer, because true version of this dish is extremely soft, and usually served in the same container it was baked in. The texture reminds some consumers of pudding or casserole, and spoon bread has to be eaten with a spoon or fork. The core ingredient of this dish is cornmeal, a classic element in Southern cuisine, and some cooks add ingredients such as cheese or vegetables.
To make spoon bread, cornmeal is combined with eggs, butter, and milk. The mixture is pre-cooked before being inserted into the oven to bake, and it is pulled out when a knife inserted into it comes clean. The dish is typically served hot, as a side dish, and it can be accompanied with gravy or other sauces. Thicker versions of spoon bread can be served in loose wedges or slices, while runnier incarnations are typically scooped directly from the baking dish onto the plate with the aid of a large spoon.
The addition of elements such as cheese to make cheesy spoon bread, or vegetables such as collard greens, is not uncommon. Some purists believe that this dish should be made and served plain, allowing diners to select their own flavoring. Others find the addition of supplemental ingredients, including exotic ones like chilies and fruit, perfectly acceptable. Once the basic recipe has been mastered, cooks can experiment with additional ingredients and spices.
There are a number of recipes for spoon bread, but the most basic starts with cooking two cups of water, one cup of milk, one cup of stone ground cornmeal, two tablespoons of butter, and one teaspoon of salt over low heat until the mixture thickens evenly. Next, three eggs are beaten into the mixture, which is poured into an oiled oven safe bowl. The spoon bread is baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for approximately 35 minutes, and served warm with a liberal heaping of butter.
Additional ingredients can be mixed in along with the eggs. Things like cheese can be grated directly into the batter, but vegetables should be cooked first. For a stronger Southern flavor, the vegetables can be sauteed with bacon, or they can be steamed for a lower fat version. The resulting spoon bread can be served straight from the bowl it was baked in, or baked in a pie dish and served in wedges like a quiche.
So how exactly do you make spoon bread? I have heard a lot about this since I moved into my new home (I recently moved from Vermont to Alabama, talk about a change!). I finally tried spoon bread in a restaurant the other day, and I have to say I was surprised by how much I liked it.
It is really not "bread" like banana bread or something, but it's still sweet, and still has that kind of bread taste. Like somebody else posted, it really is more like a pudding than anything else.
But since I liked it so much, I thought it would be fun to try and make it at home. However, it seems like
everybody and their brother has their own "authentic" recipe for spoon bread, and I have no idea where to start.
The triple corn spoon bread sounds nice, but so does the cornmeal spoon bread recipe -- which actually seems more traditional. Honestly though, I really don't know. Can someone who's native to the South give me their spoon bread recipe? I would really like to start making this my own "family tradition."
You know how every family has a few foods that just always show up at family gatherings, the recipes get passed down through generations, and every single person has to eat at least one serving a year, whether they like it or not?
Well, that's how spoon bread pudding is for my family. We always have triple corn spoon bread at every holiday, and my grandmother likes to joke that whenever two or more family members are together, there's got to be a pan of spoon bread too.
And I'm not talking about the kind of spoon bread from a restaurant -- I mean the really old style, recipe passed down since the 1700s kind of spoon bread. None
of this instant, new fangled spoon bread for the Allen family -- it's got to be great-grandmother Blanche's recipe.
And the funny thing is, most of the people in my family actually don't even really like spoon bread all that much. It's just one of those things that we keep going because it's a tradition, I guess. Do you guys have any foods like that, or is my family just the weird one when it comes to things like this?
I remember the first time I had spoon bread -- I thought it was some kind of a joke! It really doesn't look like bread at all. If anything, it's like a bread pudding or something like that.
It does taste really good though, once you can get the whole idea of "bread" out of your mind. But as long as you don't mind eating your bread with a spoon, then this is a really great dish.
Now the cornbread salad I'm still not too sure about...
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