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Southern Comfort

A heartwarming casserole gets kicked up a notch with a cornbread cap.

Photographs Eugenia Uhl

There are two things Southerners know a lot about – soul and food. Combine the two and top it with cornbread, and you’ve got culinary bliss. In her new cookbook, Southern Casseroles: Comforting Pot-Lucky Dishes, author Denise Gee whips together savory ingredients, sweet memories and rich history to put a new spin on some old-fashioned favorites with recipes like “Soul Food with a Cornbread Cap.” The hodge-podge of flavors and textures makes the perfect one-dish wonder for your next Southern-style gathering.








Soul Food with a Cornbread Cap

• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 4 cups diced cooked ham
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 quart chicken broth
• 2 cups frozen young lima beans, thawed, or a 15-ounce can of young lima beans, rinsed and well-drained
• 16-ounce package frozen chopped collard greens
• 12-ounce package frozen seasoning blend
• 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and well drained
• 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
• ½ teaspoon garlic powder
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
• Two 6 ½-ounce packages yellow cornbread mix
• Hot pepper vinegar or other hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add ham; sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, and stirring constantly to absorb the oil, cook it for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the broth and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 4 minutes.
Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately add the frozen lima beans (if using), collard greens and seasoning blend; return to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.
Carefully stir in the canned lima beans (if using instead of frozen), black-eyed peas, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper (if using); spoon the hot mixture into a lightly greased 2 ½- 3-quart baking dish.
Prepare the cornbread according to the package directions and pour the batter evenly over the ham-vegetable mixture.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown and set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 8 to 10 minutes before serving with hot pepper vinegar, if desired. Serves 6-8
Recipe from Denise Gee’s Southern Casseroles: Comforting Pot-Lucky Dishes (Chronicle Books, 2013)


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