A cross between a souffle and cornbread, spoonbread is one of the glories of Southern cuisine. Our version combines a handful of breakfast favorites into one dish: the eggy cornmeal pudding is enhanced with crumbles of bacon, a sprinkling of sharp Cheddar, and kernels of fresh corn. You’ll get some in every delicious spoonful.
Corn Spoonbread with Cheddar and Bacon
3 thick slices applewood smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
3 cups whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
Chopped fresh chives for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard the fat in the pan.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of the milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper to a boil, being careful that the milk does not boil over. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking frequently, until the cornmeal is quite thick, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until melted. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and the egg yolks and whisk into the cornmeal mixture. Stir in the cheese, corn and green onions. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a handheld mixture on high speed until soft peaks form. Stir about one-fourth of the whites into the cornmeal mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites. Butter a 2-quart baking dish or six 1 1/2-cup individual baking dishes. Spread the cornmeal mixture evenly in the prepared dish(es).
Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes for the large spoonbread and 15-20 minutes for the individual spoonbreads. Garnish with chives, if using, and serve at once. Serves 6.
Variation: Spice it up by substituting pepper jack for the Cheddar. Or, add 1 or 2 roasted, peeled and chopped poblano chiles to the mixture before folding in the egg whites.