See, I am not a big fan of “eggy” dishes (quiche, for example), but I sometimes enjoy eating soufflé. I actually like making soufflé, as it is easy and complex at the same time. You need a flavorful base, and mine usually involves some kind of cheese and/or spinach, and then the egg whites, which should be beaten to stiff peaks, but not too stiff or they will be pretty dry.
Today’s recipe reminded me a lot of a soufflé when I first saw the picture, however the ingredient that caught my attention in this one was cornmeal. I have never had spoon bread before, so I have nothing to compare this one to, but we liked it a lot!
It does have a sort of a souffleish characteristic to it, but with an even nicer texture (in my opinion). It was almost like a cross between a soufflé and a cornbread, but much, much lighter. The texture was what I liked the most; it was sort of creamy, moist and light, all at same time, without being soggy (you know, sometimes my soufflés get a little soggy in the bottom, especially after sitting for a few minutes), and not dry enough to actually resemble bread. Hard to describe, but it was very nice, I really liked this dish and will probably make it again!
Sautéing the ham beforehand brought a lot more flavor to this dish than if it was just thrown in there as is. I did however sauté the onions and ham together, as I don’t see a purpose of doing it in two separate batches. Next time I will try making it with different cheeses, as I like the cornmeal cheese combination and believe I would prefer it without the ham.
The recipe makes a lot; I made half recipe, and it was devoured at dinner! If you like soufflé you may like it too!
Ham and Two-Cheese Spoon Bread
2 3/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces 33%-less-sodium ham, diced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
4 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine milk, sugar, dried thyme, and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When mixture begins to simmer, gradually add cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, stirring well with a whisk. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened and smooth, stirring constantly. Transfer cornmeal mixture to a large bowl. Add yolks, stirring with a whisk. Let mixture stand 10 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add to cornmeal mixture. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add ham; sauté 5 minutes or until ham begins to brown. Add to cornmeal mixture. Stir cheeses into cornmeal mixture.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently stir one-third of egg white mixture into cornmeal mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape cornmeal mixture into a 1 1/2-quart soufflé or deep baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until puffed, golden brown, and just set in center. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Cooking Light, January 2006