Thursday, August 26, 2010

Corn Sweet Corn

We are inundated by corn. Every 1/2 mile down the road there is a hand-lettered sign, on plywood and painted in red spray paint: "FRESH CORN". Four dollars buys a baker's dozen, and the locals know to select the smallest ears, as they are the most tender. The real picky peel back the husk of each ear before it goes in the bag, to make sure it is light in color, with small, crisp kernels.

Around these parts, the stars are heirloom varieties, Butter and Sugar, and, later in the season, Silver Queen. In line at the Post Office folks compare corn stand notes. Some farmers sell from bushel baskets on the side of the road, some are pre-fab log fancies (these usually also feature pies and jellies, and sometimes even fresh flowers), others are shacks hastily thrown together with boards and nails. The man down the road just completed a large, well-crafted shed for his corn stand, and decorated it with pumpkins. But everyone knows it is not the shack that determines the corn, it is the field. And, the variable from year to year: the weather.

Now that's fresh from the field!

I am not kidding about this. Sometimes, we buy a half dozen from different corn stands, to compare.

Corn is serious business.

(This corn color is just about perfect, but the kernels are a little too big and puffy.)
We also eat our corn down the row, not around. Once, when I had just met my husband, we were at a party and I was saying, incredulously, that he ate corn not in a row but a -- "you mean like a mo-ron?" interjected a very Southern friend. I neither confirmed nor denied.

Of course, all this corn snobbery earns us a lot of uneaten ears. We freeze it, fry it, put it in chowders, relishes and salads. But the star turn for the unused corn is the pudding.

We've tried many, and this is the recipe we always come back to, one of Ina's, tweaked to our own taste. But we've also collected many more, and one day will knock them off, one by one, with tasting notes. Until then ..

Corn Pudding
Adapted from Ina Garten

1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 cups fresh corn kernels off the cob (6-8 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
4 extra-large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup cottage cheese, pureed in a food processor
3 tablespoons chopped chives and garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8- to 10- cup baking dish.

Melt the butter in a very large saute pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Cool slightly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cottage cheese. Add herbs, salt and pepper. Add cooked corn mix, cornmeal and grated cheddar, pour into the baking dish and sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar.

Place dish in larger pan and fill bottom pan halfway up the sides of the dish with water. Bake pudding for 45 minutes until top browns and knife inserted into center comes out clean. Serve warm. Serves 8.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Lydia, great post. Here's a link to Nancy's blog on farming in rural Japan, which you may find interesting: