Spoonbread: Ain't nothin' wrong with that | Bleader

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spoonbread: Ain't nothin' wrong with that

Posted By on 11.24.09 at 05:09 PM

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A couple days ago one of my Twitterfriends sent out an open call for Thanksgiving dishes. I grew up in a somewhat unremarkable region of the country for cuisine - there's a reason you don't see any Appalachian-cuisine-oriented restaurants, and most of the good local food in southwestern Virginia is borrowed from nearby regions (North Carolina barbecue, peanut soup, country ham).

But one of my favorite legitimately Appalachian dishes, spoonbread, is delicious and Thanksgiving-appropriate if you want a variation on cornbread. Essentially it's a cornbread souffle, which, as you can imagine, is pretty good. It's also not that difficult, if recent experience is any guide, and I'm very good at making food difficult; I've always found David Mamet's "they could fuck up a baked potato" insult mean-spirited because c'mon baking a potato is harder than it looks.

I used a recipe from Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking, a Beard Award-winning cookbook by Joseph Dabney, and it's fantastic; it even has Katherine Anne Porter's recipe for cornpone (hint: Search Inside), though I did manage to screw that up.

Naturally, you can find basic versions (more) on the Web, a buttermilk version, a bacon variant, and a green onion and cheddar spoonbread from Emeril, though we're getting dangerously close to casserole territory.

Below, an actual resident of the Southern Appalachians (note the emphasis on the first syllable in "hotel" and the pronunciation of "boil"), who lives near the legendary Boone Tavern in Berea, KY, explains how to make it. Her recipe is at the link.

Update I'd also love to be able to make sassafras tea and jelly, but as far as I can tell sassafras root bark has been illegal ever since the FDA decided it might be a carcinogen.

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