Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

grits souffle.jpg

Spoon bread is like a cross between grits and cornbread, with a lovely dense, pudding-like texture set off by cornmeal’s fine grain. I don’t need an excuse to bring sweet potatoes into the mix- I’ve been known to add them to just about everything- but in this case they reinforce the silky texture of the spoon bread in addition to adding their characteristic orange color and mild, sweet flavor

 Serves 8 to 10

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
2½ cups milk
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unpacked light brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Generously grease a 2-quart soufflé dish with about 1 tablespoon of the butter.

Wrap the potatoes in foil and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and discard the foil. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the potato peels, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F

Bring the milk, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper to a low boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the cornmeal into the milk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Cook, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pulls away from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly

Add the potatoes, egg yolks, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and the baking powder and stir to thoroughly combine.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the cornmeal-potato mixture.

Spoon the batter into the prepared dish and bake until golden brown and puffy, 35 to 40 minutes. The edges will be firm and the center will still be a little soft. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving warm.


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