I'd heard about spoon bread (sometimes one word, sometimes two) over the years, having lived in the south, but I couldn't be sure exactly what it was or that I'd ever actually eaten it. Then, over the past few months, it kept showing up. I saw a few references to it online, at the local market and (in a message from the Universe) as I was flipping through a cookbook a few weeks ago. Low-and-behold, I just opened up right to the page for good ol' spoon bread.
Taking this sign seriously, I got the ingredients and made the recipe. I was, as I added ingredients and began mixing them together, hopeful but slightly skeptical. How could such a light, soupy mixture turn out to be anything other than a failed soufflé wannabe?
An hour later, following the directions from that cookbook pretty much to-a-t, I called the family to dinner and we all dug in.
Readers, spoon bread is delicious. It's like a cross between a soufflé and cornbread, leaning on the cornbread side but with just enough air and sophistication to make it more. It's fluffy but still sturdy, not too eggy, neither delicate nor coarse.
It's different without being unfamiliar, so even the kids ate some.
My husband and I were pretty overjoyed. Do you know how tired we are of rice, potatoes and pasta as side dishes?
I was really skeptical. This first recipe, from the old-school cookbook, was very good. It was solid. It worked just like the recipe said it would work, and I didn't want to temp fate and turn out a dodgy meal on the gleaming heels of that wonderful dish we'd eaten only days before.
But just like I constantly switch songs on the radio, wondering if there's a better song on another station, I knew I needed to try this other recipe. There was a chance (slim as it may be) that it would be better.
As I began making the Food 52 recipe, I got a little riled. It was so much more laborious than the first recipe. There was separating of eggs. There was beating of egg whites. There was grating of cheese.
Ugh. Was this going to be worth it?
I finally shoved it in the oven, all but convinced I'd never go through that bother again. Then, we sat down to eat.
Readers....it was a REVELATION.
I'm not sure how one spoon bread could be that much better than the other, but it was. It was richer, smoother, somehow just altogether more decadent (if one can describe highfalutin cornbread as decadent).
Here are a few pics of our actual meal. I served the spoon bread with pork, a pan gravy and some green beans, spooning that gravy over the spoon bread. Also, I omitted the chives, as my husband hates them.
My husband agreed: the Food 52 recipe was noticeably better.
Having said that, both recipes are worth a try, and the first recipe is easier and comes together much quicker. Also, it's more neutral without the cheese.
I heated it up the next morning with blueberries, maple syrup and a splash of cream and had a lovely breakfast. I also made cheese eggs for my husband and put those over the spoon bread. He appreciated that Sunday morning surprise.
Either way, do try spoon bread. It will make you feel all folksy (in a gingham shirt kind of way) and yet sophisticated (in a mint julep kind of way) and decidedly southern (in a front-porch-sitting kind of way).
Be sure to listen to the Scratchy Back Porch Blues station on Spotify while you eat. It makes a difference.
I hope all y'all are having a wonderful week so far. The rain continues here. You know how I feel about that.