Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Savory Corn and Cheese Pudding

I would almost call this spoon bread due to the addition of a little corn meal to the batter. These are light and fluffy while delivering a really satisfying cheese flavor.  A nice side dish for poultry, these puddings are also perfect for a simple lunch or dinner with a salad or soup.

You may only think of corn pudding at the holidays but don’t wait until Thanksgiving to make these.  They come together so fast that they are ideal for a weeknight dinner.  They are a good substitute for potatoes.  If you don’t have either mozzarella or goat cheese in the house, you can use an equal amount of cream cheese.  And if you are already planning your Thanksgiving menu, this is a terrific vegetarian main dish accompanied by or spooned into 1/2 roasted acorn squash*. 

Savory Corn and Cheese Pudding
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or 14-oz can low sodium corn)
1 egg
1/2 cup cream or whole milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 ounces mozzarella or goat cheese,  diced (or a mixture)
1/4 cup fine cornmeal mixed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash cayenne (more for spice loving families)
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Spray four 1/2 cup ramekins or one larger baking vessel with oil.  
  2. Puddings will be baked in a water bath (bain marie) by placing the ramekins in a high-sided balking dish filled about 3/4 inch with hot water.  Begin bain maire by boiling 2 cups water over medium heat while you prepare puddings. 
  3. Drain corn if using canned corn. Reserve 1/2 cup corn and the Parmesan cheese.  
  4. Place remaining ingredients in a small food processor or blender.  Blend together to break down corn and incorporate the cheese. 
  5. Add reserved 1/2 cup corn and blend briefly just to incorporate into batter.  
  6. Spoon into prepared ramekins of baking dish.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.  
  7. Place puddings in the baking pan.  Place pan in oven, then fill 3/4 inch high with water to surround baking vessels.  To prevent spilled water, it is often easier to pour the water in once the baking pan is in the oven with the rack pulled out a bit.  Then slowly slide the rack back into the oven and bake.  (You can also add water to the pan then transfer it to the oven with steady hands.)  
  8. Bake puddings 20-30 minutes, until centers are set.  Serve immediately.
Corn and Cheese Puddings keep well covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days

*For roasted acorn squash, rub halved squash interiors with a bit of olive, salt and pepper and roast flesh side down for 20 minutes at 375˚F.  Turn over and continue roasting until fork tender, another 15-20 minutes.  To sweeten,  add a few drops of maple syrup or some brown sugar with a dab of butter into cavity after turning. 

Tip: If you are using canned corn, a 14 ounce can drained is just a little over 1 1/2 cups.  Use it all.