Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Ever heard of spoon bread? It's a casserole that's light and fluffy and airy, similar to a souffle or bread pudding. The word "bread" in the name is a bit misleading since it really doesn't resemble bread to me. But then again, bread pudding doesn't really resemble bread to me either. So maybe there's a second meaning to "bread" we all should learn? You certainly can eat spoon bread with a spoon since it's soft and scoopable. A fork would do well, too. But fork bread doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Ahh, such profound thoughts...
Anyways, this is a really fun recipe because it uses a polenta log in an all new (at least...new to me!) way! Rather than slicing the log up and pan-frying or grilling the slices, blend them up in the food processor to create a filling! The dish also makes great leftovers, so you could make it on a Sunday night and have it all week during your busy schedule. It's also a great base for modifying. If you feel like adding steamed cauliflower, or other types of cheese, or some peas, or even some chopped turkey, there are so many options! Go through your pantry and fridge and use up whatever you have lying around. This spoon bread can handle it!
And with a hefty helping of cheese and creamed corn in the recipe, there's no denying, this is one cheesy, corny casserole.
So I'll leave you with some cheesy, corny words in the form of the worst limerick of all time:
There once was a delicious spoon bread
Full of cheese, corn, and broccoli heads.
Though bread's in the name,
Souffle's more the game.
So don't blame me if you feel misled.
Literally Cheesy, Literally Corny Broccoli Polenta Spoon Bread
Recipe adapted from the Changing a Life blog, originally published in The One Pot Cookbook
16 ounce tube polenta, cut into chunks (Trader Joe's sells this!)
2 tablespoons water
12 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) broccoli florets, steamed (make sure to cut up any really large florets)
8 1/2 ounces creamed corn
1/2 cup milk (nonfat or 1% work great)
4 slices Swiss or Jack cheese, torn into small pieces (or you can use shredded cheese)
1/4 cup flour
2 large egg yolks (reserve the whites...see next ingredient)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease or spray a casserole dish. Set aside.
Place the polenta chunks and the water into a food processor and pulse several times until the polenta has broken down and the mixture is smooth. Should take about 15 seconds.
Transfer the polenta mixture to a large mixing bowl and add in the broccoli, creamed corn, milk, cheese, flour, and egg yolks. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Test with the back of a spoon to make sure you've reached soft peaks. Carefully stir 1/4 of these beaten egg whites into the polenta mixture. Now gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined. Do not overmix and do not stir in circles because you'll deflate the egg whites!
Gently scrape the batter into the greased casserole dish and bake for 45-50 minutes, until slightly puffed up and golden brown on top. Serve warm.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Whip up the egg whites...
Start by folding just 1/4 of the egg whites into the polenta mixture...
Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold until the batter is well combined...
Spread into a greased baking dish...
Bake at 400 degrees F for 45-50 minutes...