Charred Corn and Roasted Bone Marrow Spoonbread with Basil-Almond Pesto

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Photo by Jonathan Boncek

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16 4-ounce ramekins

  • 3 ears corn, husked
  • 2 ¾ cups whole milk, separated
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2-3 marrow bones
  • 4 tablespoons beef fat
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for greasing baking dish
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 eggs, separated into yolks and whites, at room temperature
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Basil-almond pesto (recipe follows)
  • Basil-Almond Pesto
  • ½ cup toasted whole or sliced almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ good-quality olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Char corn on grill or under broiler, making sure all of cob is completely charred (but not burned). Let cool and remove kernels from cob.
  3. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups milk with polenta. Whisk to blend.
  4. Next, render marrow bones and scrape remaining marrow from them. Reserve marrow.
  5. Sauté corn in butter and beef fat for 3–5 minutes. Add remaining milk to pan and bring to boil, then remove and let steep for 10­–15 minutes.
  6. Return reserved marrow to burner and add milk-polenta mixture. Stir until it starts to thicken, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature.
  7. Whisk in egg yolks until blended. In a separate bowl, beat whites and lemon juice to stiff peaks. Fold whites into polenta mixture, ⅓ at a time, until completely incorporated.
  8. Fill heavily greased 4-ounce ramekins ¾ full and bake for 25–28 minutes, until tops are golden brown and spoonbread has risen above the top of the ramekin by ½ inch. Serve immediately with basil-almond pesto on top.

Basil-Almond Pesto

  1. In food processor, pulse almonds and garlic until finely chopped.
  2. Add basil, lemon juice, and zest and pulse 8–10 times to incorporate.
  3. Turn processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Continue to spin pesto until smooth but not a paste.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse a few times to blend evenly.
  5. Use immediately or store in fridge in an airtight container topped with a thin layer of olive oil. This pesto also freezes wonderfully.
  • from Executive Chef Aaron Hoskins of The Rogue Gentlemen, Richmond, VA

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