Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cornbread and Egg Gravy - An Easter Tradition

Easter is wonderful, and all the decorating and festivities are great; but every year people are faced with the same dilemma - what to do with all those hard-boiled eggs!  It has been the tradition in our family to make an egg gravy (a white gravy with hard-boiled eggs in it) and serve it over cornbread.
  It's really delicious, and it's my Handsome Man's favorite dish. He requests it at least once a week - but I only make it once or twice a month so that everyone else doesn't get burnt out on it. When I make it during a busy week, I will sometimes use a boxed mix cornbread. For Easter, though, I always make it from scratch and try to make it a little special.  I usually prepare my Sweet n' Cheesy Cornbread. (This one is my husband's favorite. He even eats his egg gravy on the side, so that he can savor the cornbread by itself.)
Really, my cornbread is like anything else I make. I rarely make it the same way twice.

Here's what you'll need:
flour, cornmeal, sugar, milk, baking powder, salt, 1 egg, butter, green onions, cheddar cheese, *8x8 baking dish
 Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl (or large measuring cup like I did).
 Mix the milk, egg and melted butter in another container.
 Add the wet to the dry and stir.
 When it's mostly combined, add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
 Chop 1/4 - 1/2 cup green onions and add those too. (These are small ones from my garden.) If I have them, I also like to add 1/2 cup of roasted and diced Poblano peppers. Unfortunately, I don't have any today.
 When everything is mixed, pour it into a 8x8 baking dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray. Top with a little more cheese. (If i have a 10 inch cast-iron skillet, then I like to bake my cornbread in this. Just heat it up on the stove with some butter. When it's hot, add the cornbread batter, top it with cheese and then transfer it to the oven. Cooking it in the cast-iron makes the bottom and sides extra crunchy.)
Bake @ 425 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Now for the Egg Gravy:

You'll need a minimum of 6 hard boiled eggs. I usually use 6 to 8. Today I used 10. ;)
First thing's first,
Get a large skillet or saute pan on the stove with 3/4 to 1 stick of butter. When the butter is melted, add the same amount of flour (if you added 1 stick of butter you will add 1/2 cup of flour). I added my flour a little early here, because I wanted to show both steps with one picture.
Whisk to combine. It should look like wet sand. Let it cook for 1 minute on low heat.
Then add 4 cups of milk, SLOWLY - whisking all the time. (If you want to cut some fat and calories, you can use skim milk like I did.)
 Keep whisking so you have no lumps. When you have one homogeneous, and thin mixture you can add your milk a little faster.
 Now add 1 tsp salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg (maybe 1/8 tsp). Cook it over medium low heat, whisking occasionally until it thickens.

 Now back to the eggs.
This is the easiest way for me to peel them. Tap them on the counter, on both ends.
 Then tap the sides on the counter, rotating it so it all gets cracked.
 Then gently roll it on the counter to make sure the whole shell is cracked.
 Then the peel should just come off. TIP: The older your eggs are, the easier they are to peel!
 When the shell is all removed, run the egg under some water, to make sure there are no tiny pieces of shell left behind.

 When your gravy is thick, it will hold a line down the back of a spoon like this. (Dip the spoon in the gravy, and run your finger down the back. If it holds the line and doesn't run, the gravy is done.)
 Now this is the messy part. - If you don't want to get so messy, you can opt to get out a knife and cutting board and take the time to cut your eggs into tiny pieces, but I find this MUCH faster an less clean up. I'd rather wash my hands again then have to wash more dishes. -
Take the peeled egg in your freshly cleaned hand and squeeze. Using your thumb and fingers, break up the egg into tiny pieces.
 You just want your pieces bite size or smaller.
 - If you are looking to cut out even more fat and calories, you can use mostly egg whites. Today I used 10 whites and 2 yolks. (I would make sure to have at least 2 yolks, though, so you get the right flavor in the gravy. The more yolks you have the richer the flavor.)
When all the eggs are crumbled in, stir (it will turn a yellowish color) . . .
and serve over your cornbread!
So good!!

Here are the recipes:

Sweet n' Cheesy Cornbread

1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 - 1/2 cup green onion, diced thin
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (plus more for top)

Mix dry ingredients. Mix butter, milk and egg. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. Add the cheese and green onions. Put into greased 8x8 baking dish and bake @ 425 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Egg Gravy

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Melt butter. When the butter stops foaming, add flour and whisk. Cook on low for 1 minute. Add milk slowly, while whisking to get out all the lumps. Cook on medium low, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Crumble 6 to 8 hard boiled eggs into thick gravy and stir. Serve over warm cornbread.

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