Sweet Potato Spoonbread for practice Thanksgiving
I’ve been practicing Thanksgiving. That’s because I almost never make the same things from year to year. I’ve already brought you a big pile a greens (Creamy Swiss Chard with Coconut) as well as a bourbon and molasses glazed turkey drumstick recipe. Greens. Bourbon. Molasses. This is shaping up to be a very Southern “practice” Thanksgiving. If you’ve spent some time in a Southern kitchen I’m sure you know spoonbread. If not then you might not realize how perfect spoonbread is as a Thanksgiving side dish.
Spoonbread has many of the same ingredients as cornbread: cornmeal, eggs and milk. But it has no leavening at all. In fact spoonbread isn’t really bread. It’s more of a savory pudding. You might be tempted to call it a cornmeal souffle. But where I come from, you’d get a whole lot of nasty looks if you did. For starters there’s nothing fancypants about spoonbread. It’s a humble dish that gained popularity in the south about 100 years ago when cornmeal began to replace yeast in some Southern “breads”.
Like grits spoonbread is a wonderful blank canvas for flavor. To keep my spoonbread appropriate to the holiday mine features sweet potatoes. I may not make the same dish every year at Thanksgiving, but at my house sweet potatoes show up year after year in some form or another.
2 pound sweet potatoes 1/4 cup yellow corn meal 2 cup milk 2 tablespoon unsalted butter (plus more for loaf pan) 2 tablespoon brown sugar (optional) 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup water 1/2 cup flour 2 tablespoon honey 4 large eggs (lightly beaten) 1 cup cream
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until soft when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice the sweet potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into a medium bowl to cool completely.
Meanwhile, reduce heat to 325 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine cornmeal, milk, butter, brown sugar (if using), cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, salt, and water. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Butter a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan. Set aside. Working in batches if necessary, place cornmeal mixture, sweet potatoes, flour, honey, eggs, and cream in a food processor. Process until smooth; pour into the prepared pan. Bake until spoonbread is set and begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 50 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.