We had this savory side dish at a Tom Douglas restaurant, Etta’s Seafood, and it was excellent – if not for New Year’s dieters. We tried the recipe this weekend and it turned out really well, a nice, dressy side dish alternative to stuffing or potatoes.
Tom publishes the recipe in his Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen cookbook, and it’s been reprinted several places on the web, so I’m sharing it here as well.
Etta’s Cornbread Pudding
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for buttering pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal
½ cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus a little more for buttering pan
1 cup thinly sliced onions
¾ cup grated dry jack cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 ¼ cups whipping cream or half-and-half
4 large eggs
¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. To prepare the cornbread: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt ¼ cup butter and set aside to cool slightly. Butter an 8-inch square pan with a little softened butter and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, pepper jack cheese, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and honey. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Add the melted butter and stir into the mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch cubes.
3. To prepare the pudding: Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Put the cornbread cubes in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over low heat and cook the onions very slowly until soft and golden brown, at least 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Remove from the heat. Scatter the onions, cheese and herbs over the cornbread. Whisk together the cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and pour over the cornbread cubes. Let sit for 10 minutes so the cornbread absorbs some of the custard.
Notes: Dry jack cheese resembles parmesan and is nuttier than regular jack; you could also use parmesan or sharp cheddar but the flavor would change. You can make the cornbread and store it in the freezer, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for a few weeks until you are ready to make the pudding. The onions can be caramelized a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The pudding can be baked a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered – we actually liked it better the second day. Before serving, reheat the pudding, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 375-degree oven until warmed through.