Texas coast meets Carolina Low Country in this classic ‘bread’
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to return to our culinary roots. Spoonbread, traced back to America’s colonial days, is a classic Southern cooking tradition. The bread is more like a pudding, hence the necessity of a spoon.
Although Native Americans had probably been making the dish for centuries before, Sarah Rutledge published a few versions of spoonbread in her 1847 cookbook, “The Carolina Housewife,” according to relish.com.
In “The Carolina Housewife,” Rutledge links spoonbread’s roots directly to Native Americans, “with a traditional Carolina Low Country rendition called Awendaw” named for a Native American settlement outside of Charleston.
Here’s a version with an upper Texas coast twist.
1⁄2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1⁄2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
21⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 large eggs separated, plus 5 more egg whites
2 cups buttermilk
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon butter
1 (1⁄2 to 3⁄4 pound) flounder or grouper fillet
Peel and devein shrimp, set aside.
Combine cornmeal and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together 3 egg yolks and buttermilk, add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.
Beat 8 egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold 1⁄3 egg-white mixture into cornmeal mixture; repeat twice more with remaining 2⁄3 egg whites.
Brown butter in 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Put fillet in center of skillet and pour batter over top.
Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, place shrimp on top and bake for 10 more minutes, or until spoon bread is golden and shrimp turn pink. Serve immediately.