Servings: 6 to 8
Traditionally served in the South, spoonbread is a savory pudding-like dish that makes hearty breakfast fare (although it’s great for dinner, too). Here, it’s livened up with a dose of fresh herbs.
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Bring the milk and 1/2 tsp. salt to a simmer in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the polenta. Continue whisking until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 15 minutes. Add the ham and stir often until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Stir the ham mixture, cheeses, egg yolks, basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper into the polenta; mix well.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the polenta and then spread the mixture in the prepared baking pan. Cut the remaining 2 Tbs. butter into pieces and dot on top.
Bake until brown and puffed, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving with a large spoon.
If you substitute cured ham for the fresh ham, you might want to reduce the amount of salt in the spoonbread.
This recipe is fairly simple and absolutely delicious. I made it with a very chunky pre-made crab dip and mixed gourmet mushrooms instead of the leftover ham for a little variety at a brunch this weekend. It was creamy but solid and tasted divine. It was a huge hit!
Great, we ate it for dinner, but it would be good for brunch as well. I used normal polenta, not the quick cooking type,and it worked well.
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