Corn pudding: Warm. Comforting. Fluffy AND creamy(!). A perfect food and an excellent people-pleaser of a side dish (kids love it) to balance your Thanksgiving plate. It’s incredibly tasty, but not pushy or temperamental (we’re looking at YOU, “savory soufflés for a crowd”—ha!). You won’t have to worry about flavors clashing with other dishes because it goes with everything and you won’t have to worry if it’s done before your turkey because it’s delicious at room temperature and can also be reheated no problem. It’s even amazing the next day, which means…you can make it the day before! Hellllooo, corn pudding.
Ok, so we like our corn pudding. Clearly. But we didn’t really know that much about corn itself until we picked up a copy of Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side. Corn is sweet and delicious, yes, but did you know that all corn is not created equal? Robinson has a way of writing about the incredible nutritional secrets of even the most familiar of foods that will have you looking at and eating them in a whole new way. She shares which varieties of various produce are most nutritious, which are less so, and how to choose the best of the bunches available. From her section on corn, we learned to always select the “most colorful” and to “choose the ears with the deepest yellow kernels,” but equally interesting is the crop’s past and how the corn we’ve come to know got to be just that.
Ms. Robinson’s book is chock-full of food history that explains the “dramatic nutritional difference between the wild plants in our original diet and the man-made” food we eat today. Once you’ve started making your newly and highly informed food selections, you’ll be on your way to a healthier diet. Amazingly, this might just mean switching the varieties you choose (like with corn) and not the food as a whole. Ms Robinson also offers tips on storing, cooking, and preparing fruits and vegetables in the way that best retains a particular food’s nutrients. And some of it you’d never have guessed. Did you know that you get the most health benefits from your garlic if you cut it up and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking? Neither did we. And guess what? On top of all that, there are even fantastic recipes for using old and new favorite ingredients alike—all of which we can’t wait to try. We think you might love this book as much as we do.
But we digress (for good reason!)… Now, back to corn pudding. It’s our favorite way of getting corn, the ever-traditional Thanksgiving staple, onto our holiday table. You might find it’s yours, too…
In this recipe, we used thyme because it’s what we had on hand, BUT chives or basil would be great, too. We also used a bain-marie during baking, yielding a creamier, perfectly evenly cooked pudding.
* * * *
-A food processor
-A 2 quart shallow baking dish about 2 inches deep
-An oven-proof pan larger than your baking dish for the bain-marie
-4 cups of corn, fresh or frozen (If frozen, defrost on your counter, in your microwave, or on the stove before using but don’t turn it into mush!)
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-2 tbs flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tbs fresh thyme
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1 cup milk, room temperature
-1/2 cup half and half, room temperature
-2 tbs melted butter
-4 room temperature eggs, beaten
-1 cup shredded white cheddar (we prefer sharp to mild), plus 1/3 cup for sprinkling on top
-1 tsp chili powder
* Heat over to 350°F. Butter your baking dish and set aside.
* Using the metal blade of your food processor, process 2 cups of the corn until not quite smooth.
* Sift in the baking powder, flour and salt. Add the thyme and black pepper. Process to blend.
* Add the milk, half and half, melted butter, eggs, and process until mixed.
* Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 2 cups of corn and 1 cup of cheddar.
* Pour into the prepared baking dish and smooth out lightly. Sprinkle on the remaining cheddar and chili powder.
* Set the baking pan in a larger, oven proof pan (a roasting pan works great). Put in the oven and carefully pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish.
* Bake for 50-60 minutes until the pudding is set and the top is golden brown.
* Serve hot or at room temperature!
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