OMG you guys. It’s November! Do you know what that means?
Thanksgiving is almost here!!!!
Well, less than a month anyway. I guess you could say that’s “almost” right?
I’m gonna go with yes, and I’m gonna get excited about it.
If you’ve been following me for a while you probably know that I take Thanksgiving very seriously. I have big recipe plans this year, and I’m so excited to get to share them with you. I’ve been thinking and planning and prepping and testing since early this summer, and for the next few weeks I’ll be sharing all the fruits of my labor. So much labor.
This will be my third Thanksgiving with Brooklyn Homemaker, and this time around I finally realized that I needed to get the ball rolling early if I was going to be able to share my whole meal plan with you guys. So, you’re welcome.
Now, when I was testing out (and photographing) this particular recipe, it was basically the height of corn season here in New York so the corn I used was bright and crisp and fresh from the green market.
In many parts of the country fresh sweet corn is still available at Thanksgiving, so if you can find it, great, use that. I realize however, that it may be difficult for many of you to find it this time of year. Fear not my friends, frozen corn will work totally fine.
My only advice is that you should skip the cheap-o bag of grocery store brand corn, and go for the good stuff. The sweet crunchy kernels are the stars of the show here, so you want to try to get the freshest, crunchiest frozen corn you can find. I love frozen corn and always have a bag (or two) of it in the freezer, but not all frozen corn is created equal. The cheap stuff can sometimes have a bland boring flavor and is often mealy and mushy, so using crumby corn in this recipe will most likely result in a crumby corn pudding.
Corn pudding isn’t super traditional in every region of the U.S., and I’d actually never even tasted it until making it myself this year. In the South however, it’s totally synonomous with Thanksgiving, and from what I’ve heard it’s served at most large family gatherings and celebrations. In the North, and on the West coast, many people haven’t even heard of it and have no clue what it is. When I told Russell I was thinking of giving it a try this Thanksgiving he had no clue what I was talking about and wasn’t really sold on the idea when I tried to explain it.
While I may not have grown up eating corn pudding, but I did grow up eating lots of corn. Sweet corn is a kind of a big deal in New York State, and I was raised with a deep love and respect for fresh corn.
When I was young we used to spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. Grandma always served corn (although she was fond of canned corn over fresh) and mashed potatoes with almost every meal. My sister and I used to make the craziest concoction with our corn and potatoes. We were kids, and had wild imaginations and strange pallets, and we would take a big scoop of potatoes, make a little well in the center that we’d fill with corn, and then we’d top the whole thing with applesauce. We called it a volcano. I don’t know where we got the initial idea to do this, but it was a nightly ritual at grandma’s dinner table. These days it sounds pretty gross to me, but when I was young it was a delicacy. As weird as it sounds now, I guess it’s pretty cool that my family let me do weird things with food so I would grow up with an adventurous culinary spirit.
Given my deep seated love of sweet corn, I’ve been lusting after this recipe for years. I can’t remember where I first saw it, maybe Pinterest, or maybe Food Network; but either way I’ve wanted to try it ever since. For the past two or three years I’ve wanted to make it for my Thanksgiving buffet but just never got around to it. Until now.
I don’t know how traditional this recipe is. I adapted it from Ina Garten, a woman who’s decidedly un-Southern but entirely capable in the kitchen. She may not be an authority on Southern home cooking, but she’s one of my greatest culinary idols so I figured her recipe had to be worth a shot.
This corn pudding has a soft, tender, fluffy, almost soufflé like texture, studded with crunchy bursting little golden kernels of sweet corn. Beyond being slightly sweet from the corn and rich with cream, butter, and eggs; it’s also packed with flavor from the fresh green herbs and sharp nutty cheddar cheese. The flavor and texture is sort of similar to spoon bread (another Southern classic) or maybe something like a cross between cornbread and a soufflé. It’s super rich and decadent, so you probably won’t really want huge servings, especially when served along with an already heavy and bountiful meal like Thanksgiving dinner. Because the serving size is small, this recipe makes enough to feed a crowd.
My one word of warning is be careful not to overcook it. It should be tender and light and delicate and it can lose those qualities and become hard and rubbery if it’s overcooked. So, resist the urge to try to get a brown golden crust on the top. A little browning is fine, but you don’t want it crispy looking.
Herb and Cheddar Corn Pudding
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)
5 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels (about 6 or 7 ears of fresh corn)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated sharp aged cheddar, divided
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 8×12 or 9×13 baking dish. Try to find a dish that will easily fit inside another, larger, pan. (a high sided sheet pan works well)
Melt the butter in a very large saute pan and saute the onion over medium-high heat for 2 to 3e minutes. Add corn and saute for 4 minutes more. Add parsley, sage, and thyme and toss to coat. If using fresh corn use the butt end of your knife to scrape the “milk” from the corn cobs and add to pan. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Whisk the eggs, milk, and cream together in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and ricotta, then the sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and 1 cup of the grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheddar.
Place your baking dish in a larger pan and transfer to the center shelf of the oven. Use a measuring cup with a spout to fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.