Spoon Bread with Leeks and Gruyere Cheese

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I rarely make fish and chips, but I had some catfish fillets that had to be used and thought a Southern-style fish fry would be a nice change of pace for our supper. Bob and I completed the river walk at a brisk pace this morning, so I felt less guilty about frying than might otherwise have been the case. I did rule out French fries, but only because I had two other Southern recipes that I wanted to try. We Northern gals rarely have spoon bread. As a matter of fact, I'll wager there are some Northern gals who have never had spoon bread. I'd only had it once before tonight's dinner. Although it's called a bread, it's really more like a cornmeal souffle or savory pudding than a bread. It has a moist, custard-like interior. That interior is probably what led to the practice of always serving the pudding with a spoon. I'm told Southerners wouldn't dream of using a knife and fork to move a serving from the casserole to a plate. The true history of spoon bread is not well documented, so I think some conjecture is fair. Corn was used because it was more readily available than flour. Leaveners, other than yeast, were not generally available until the middle part of the 19th century. Yeast breads take time to make. Cooks, early on, discovered that eggs could be used to quickly leaven certain dishes. Early versions of spoon bread used eggs as a leavener and that moved it into the category of a colonial quick bread. Quick breads, then and now, are popular. This recipe takes spoon bread to another level. It is flavored with leeks and cheese and it is altogether delicious. It's also very easy to make. If you like polenta, I think you'll love this. While Gruyere cheese adds a lovely nutty flavor to the dish, Swiss cheese can also be used. Here's the recipe.

Spoon Bread with Leeks and Gruyere Cheese
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, adapted from Savoring America


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped leeks (white and tender green of 3 leeks)

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup sour cream

4 eggs

1-1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

2 scallions (white and tender green), chopped


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1-1/2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2) Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add milk, water,salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal and return mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir until mixture thickens and pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

3) In bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and pale lemon yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of cornmeal mixture into eggs. Then fold egg mixture into remaining cornmeal mixture, stirring constantly to prevent eggs from scrambling. Fold in cheese and scallions.

4) Scrape mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Serve at once directly from casserole. Yield: 6-8 servings.

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