THE CHEF: TIFFANY DERRY
Her restaurants: Roots Chicken Shak, in Dallas and Austin, Texas; Roots Southern Table, outside Dallas
What she is known for: She served the Southern food she grew up eating alongside new dishes she created. Showcasing the seasonality and nuance in Southern food.
SOME DISHES ARE best at home – this spoon bread for example, Chef Tiffany Derry’s second Slow Food Fast recipe. It contains more dairy and fat than a standard cornbread, creating a custardy interior more suited to spooning than slicing. Ms. Derry used to make a version at Roots Southern Table, her restaurant outside of Dallas. “Now we only do cornbread,” she said. “It is difficult to get this on the table in time. I like to serve spoon bread straight from the oven, when it’s big and puffy, like a soufflé.”
So you’ve been warned: Like most spoonbreads, this one drains quickly once it’s out of the oven. Other than that, it’s a simple recipe, tested to perfection by generations of Mrs. Derry’s family. “My grandmother taught my mother how to make this, and my mother taught me,” said the chef. She emphasized that she’s stayed true to the character of the original – that lofty, soft texture in particular – giving or taking a few tweaks over the years. “I made it tastier by reducing the sugar and adding cheese,” she said. “Sometimes I add fresh jalapeño for warmth.”
The recipe below requires a muffin tin to save baking time. But you can use a cast iron skillet if desired; just add 15 minutes or so to the baking time. “The result will be the same, but your cooking time will depend on the size of the pan,” Ms Derry advised. “Whatever you’re using, make sure you only fill the barrel two-thirds full so the batter has room to expand.”
A generous dollop of spoon bread makes a nice light meal alongside a green salad. For a family gathering, Mrs. Derry might use it as a starch for oxtails and gravy, for example. Anyway, it’s a treat.
A generous dollop of spoon bread makes a nice light meal alongside a green salad. For a family gathering, Chef Tiffany Derry might serve it as the starch for oxtail and gravy, for example. Anyway, it’s a treat.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1¼ cups sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a heavy muffin tin with cups about 2½ inches in diameter.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a blender, pulse corn and milk together until combined. (It’s okay if it’s not completely smooth.) Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold in the sour cream, melted butter, eggs and cheese. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn on the grill and slide the pan just below it. Roast until top is brown in spots, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately with a green salad or as a side dish for a larger meal.
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