I’m writing this while wearing my slippers, which I had to dig out of the front hall closet. The cat is curled up like a cinnamon bun in Rich’s lap, hoping to enjoy his body warmth (and vice versa). This week’s CSA box had both a butternut squash and six ears of corn – one box, two seasons. Summer is tiptoeing its way out and fall is tap dancing its way in.
Fresh corn pudding, I have discovered, is the perfect mix of late summer and early fall. Each creamy bite of this comforting dish is both sweet and savory, a reminder of why this time of year is my favorite food season. This recipe is from Deborah Madison’s America: The Vegetarian Table, which is where I found the persimmon pudding recipe. What can I say, the woman knows her puddings!
Fresh Corn Pudding by Deborah Madison
18 saltine crackers, or ¾ cup cracker crumbs or fresh bread crumbs
6 large ears of corn
1 ½ Tablespoons corn oil or butter
1 cup finely diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups loosely packed orange Colby or mild Cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 6-cup shallow casserole or gratin dish. If using saltines, put them in a bag and roll over them with a rolling pin to make coarse crumbs. There should be about ¾ cup. Set aside. Shuck the corn and pull of the silks. If you slice your corn in a deep bowl, you’ll keep it from spattering all over. Holding an ear of corn stem end down and using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the top halves of the corn kernels; do not include the fibrous base, the part that gets caught in your teeth. Then turn your knife over and, using the dull side, press it down the length of the cob, squeezing out the rest of the corn and the milk. You’ll end up with a mushy substance in the bottom of the bowl along with the kernels. Repeat with the remaining ears.
Warm the oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook just until limp, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes without letting the onions brown. Add this to the corn and stir in the milk, eggs, 1 cup of the cheese, and ½ cup of the cracker crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish and top with the remaining cracker crumbs and cheese. Bake on the center rack of the oven until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle paprika over the top, and serve.