Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back to corn: Freezing and pudding

You know how it goes: You post something on your blog (corn soup), someone comments (freezing corn for corn pudding), you respond (two of my favorite words together: corn and pudding!), someone tosses a recipe your way (corn pudding! with basil!), you make it, and you have a new favorite. Well, that's how it went. Does blogging not seriously rock?

This corn pudding incorporates some of the best flavors of the season: fresh, sweet corn and basil. And it made a great accompaniment to my beer can roasted chicken the other night—a nice change from potatoes.

There it is posing with the chicken, some sauteed summer squash, and some braised fennel in parmesan and white wine. I'm also thinking it would make a great side dish for THANKSGIVING. Can you believe I'm thinking about it already?? I should get a life.

So how does corn pudding in November fit into eating seasonally? Through a big loop hole: I try not to BUY produce out of season (I explained once to Sophie that when fruit has to get on a plane in Chile and fly all the way here, it is more expensive and the trip adds more air pollution that when it takes a short truck ride), but that doesn't mean I can't EAT it out of season. So when produce is cheap and plentiful and I have time, I like to can and freeze.

Behold this dandy little device I bought recently.

As hard as I try, I can never get all the air squeezed out the bag when I'm packing for the freezer and worry that I am bruising the contents. This little guy sucks the air right out, minimizing the chance of freezer burn. And the price is right (about $3.50 on sale), although you'll have to buy their tricky little bags.

To prepare corn for freezing, I blanch the ears for about 30 seconds in boiling water and then cool them in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

I give them a good dry-off (you don't want ice crystals forming in the bag) and saw off the kernels.

Here is an adaptation of Ina Garten's recipe for corn pudding from the Food Network. I reduced the butter (you're welcome) and omitted the sugar (fresh corn is sweet enough). Next time I might try substituting half the ricotta with goat cheese. I'm always looking for an excuse to put goat cheese in recipes. This is a huge recipe, a perfect size for a large Thanksgiving dinner, but you may want to halve it for a regular meal.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups fresh corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
4 extra-large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter 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 cornmeal and then the ricotta. Add the basil, sugar, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar.

Place the dish in a larger pan and 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.


Trevor said...

I must make that sagaponack corn pudding at least twice a year and I also reduce the sugar. I prefer it to my 'grandfather's corn pudding' which includes a lot of brown sugar guaranteed to throw at least one guest into diabetes before Thanksgiving dinner is over.

And our corn supply is now in the freezer!

Purple Flowers said...

It looks so good that I am going to try it! Thanks for sharing. :)

KatieGirlBlue said...

Oh yum! There was always a corn pudding on our Turkey Day table. One of my favorites.

Cid said...

How much do I love it when I find a recipe that sounds yummy and I have all the ingredients for? Guess what we're having tonight kids?

Trevor said...

I came back to this page to re-read it as I made this for a buffet dinner last weekend. Like you, I leave out the sugar and 1/2 the butter. I've been saving corn for fall for many years and never blanched it first. I was wondering why you do that? Since I do so much I don't like that extra step! Its hard enough getting all the strings off that much corn! (Many don't get caught!) Oh, and I have a foodsaver system and you don't have to crush the contents with it. You just send it to SEAL when you think enough air is out.