This can be a quadruple threat–main course, side dish, dessert, breakfast. For me, it was not substantial enough as a main course, but I’m a big eater. I like this best as a side dish or dessert–drizzling more maple syrup over it for dessert.
Spoon bread is so called because it is not sliced, but rather spooned out of the baking dish–usually a cast iron frying pan. This recipe is a cross between spoon bread and a soufflé–the eggs are separated and the whites whipped before being incorporated into the dish. It won’t rise as high as a soufflé.
I think that you could use other roots here, carrots, parsnips, (Japanese) turnips, or a combination–just make sure that you cook them long enough to make a fluffy purée.
1 – 1 1/2 c purée of winter squash
1/3 c maple syrup
2 c milk or other similar liquid
1 c cornmeal
1/2 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
4 T butter or vegetable oil (extra-virgin olive oil may be too strong tasting)
5 eggs, separated
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 11- x 7-inch or 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish, or other suitable baking vessel.
2. Combine purée with maple syrup. Set aside.
3. Put the milk in a large saucepan over low heat. Once the milk begins to warm up, add the cornmeal in a thin stream or in small dumps, whisking all the while, until the cornmeal is incorporated into the milk and there are no lumps. Increase the heat some and cook, stirring more or less the entire time, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It’s not necessary for the mixture to come to the boil.
4. Reduce heat and add squash. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring, until the mixture is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Add salt, nutmeg, and butter, stirring to blend. Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes, then stir in egg yolks.
5, Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the whites into the cornmeal, then fold in the rest. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and puffed (there will be cracks on the surface). Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.