Saturday, March 8, 2014
There’s no shortage of where to buy good local corn at farmer’s markets. But what to do with it besides boiling and buttering those tasty ears opens up a world of possibilities.
Fritters, flans, tarts, salads all come into play, but for me my favorite dish is corn pudding. A basic mixture is merely eggs, milk, butter, corn and seasonings. Fancier versions ramp up the egg content for a richer custard or milk is replaced with heavy cream. Then there’s the addition of cheeses like ricotta, cheddar, Parmesan and other good melting cheeses.
Corn pudding is a great accompaniment for summer menus; here it's served with grilled lamb, baby local carrots and sauteed olive oil potato cakes
Chef Bobby Flay has a great pudding recipe, a roasted poblano corn pudding that’s featured in his book, Bobby Flay Cooks American. It’s delicious though slightly more complicated to make.
Preparing the corn for a pudding takes some practice in neatly getting the kernels off the cob. Regionally the process is known as tipping—which basically accomplishes what it says. After being husked and the silk is removed you put the pointed end into a deep bowl and starting just below the top of the corn run a sharp paring knife lightly down the cob to the tip, cutting halfway through the kernel.
When you start to "tip" the corn, cut lightly so as to leave the back side of the kernal on the cob
Using either the back side or sharp side of the knife scrape upwards to get the remaining corn kernels and the precious corn milk
The corn milk collects at the bottom of the bowl; the fresher the corn, the more milk you'll get
Then scrape what remains, running you knife from tip to top to get the rest of the corn and the precious corn milk that lies within. The milk gives great texture and taste to whatever corn dish you’re preparing.
Here are two versions of corn pudding. One uses many milks--whole milk, heavy cream and buttermilk and the result is a very soft, silky pudding; in the other recipe I used duck eggs, which make a very rich custard further enhanced with heavy cream and Parmesan. Either one is a great corn pudding. But experiment on your own by changing the formula: more eggs, all cream or milk or a combination; or saute onions, green or red peppers with the corn before adding it to the custard mixture and try different cheeses too.
Old-fashioned corn pudding
Servings: 6 to 8
2 cups corn (4 to 5 ears)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Scrape the kernels from the cob (as described above) and then with the back of the knife scrape upwards to release all the milky juice within.
In a medium mixing bowl beat the eggs with a whisk, then add the cream, milk and buttermilk, beating well to combine. Fold in the corn, season with salt and pepper and turn into a buttered (using some of the butter needed for melting) 8 x 8 gratin dish and melt the rest of the butter and pour over the top.
Place in a larger pan with about 1 inch of warm water in it and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Parmesan corn pudding
Duck eggs make the difference here or chicken eggs will produce fine results.
Servings: 6 to 8
4 cups corn (about 6 to 8 large ears)
2 duck eggs (or chicken eggs)
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons flour
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
A few drops Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the corn from the cob as described above and scrape the cobs to extract the milk from the kernels.
In a large bowl beat the eggs, heavy cream and melted butter. Add the sugar, flour, nutmeg, salt and Worcestershire. Mix well. Fold in the corn and pour the mixture into a well greased 2- to 2 1/2- quart baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is golden brown and the pudding is firm to the touch.
The Parmesan corn pudding is crusty and firm-textured
Parmesan corn pudding served with local green and wax beans alongside Chinese style barbecued roasted brined chicken in a peanut sauce (method and recipe next week)
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.