Siding with a corny casserole

Every Thanksgiving (or most, anyway), I attempt a new side dish. There are so many, and, as I’ve heard recently, as much fuss as people make of the turkey, the Thanksgiving meal is really about the sides. I love the “auditioning” of a potential new favorite…in the past, this has come in the form of a creamy, stroganoff-style mushroom dish, a crunchy green bean dressed in citrus, and mushrooms or sweet-peppers stuffed with cornbread dressing.

[S]peaking of corn, I was gobsmacked recently when I saw a beautiful corn casserole featured by The New York Times cooking section on Facebook. A side of pure plain sweet corn is really quite satisfying for me, but this recipe adds a creaminess to two pounds of corn kernels via a spoon bread like concoction of flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sour cream, eggs and cheddar cheese.  All is baked in a casserole with an extra layer of cheese melting and oozing over the top. Yowza…I had to give this a try!

[T]he dish is first infused with green onions and rosemary sautéed with the corn in butter with a seasoning of salt and pepper.

[T]he dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder with a little additional salt) are blended into the sautéed corn.

[S]our cream and eggs are whisked together then added to the sautéed corn mixture, along with some shredded cheddar cheese. 

[T]he creamy corn mixture is spread in a casserole coated with melted butter, then topped with a thick layer of cheese.

[T]he casserole, fresh out of the oven, gleams golden with that cheddar, melted to the point of having delightful crusty-brown edges. Corn alone has a beautifully buttery aroma, but this ratcheted up the corny fragrance factor.

[T]his dish has a layered effect — creamy, crunchy sweet corn at the bottom, a middle layer of a moist, pudding-like cornbread, and a top of rich, chewy cheese. Together, they spelled something new that I would make and eat all year long, as a main or a side, a dish for those of us who have long loved corn and appreciate any new way (or excuse) to prepare it.

Corn Casserole

From The New York Times

Serves 8 to 10

  • • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • • 2 pounds frozen or fresh corn kernels (about 6 1/2 cups)
  • • 4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (optional)
  • • 1 fresh rosemary sprig (optional)
  • • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • • ½ cup fine or coarse yellow cornmeal
  • • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • • 1 cup sour cream
  • • 2 large eggs
  • • 1 ½ cups freshly grated Cheddar or Parmesan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Add 4 tablespoons butter to a 9-by-13-inch pan or other 3-quart casserole dish and transfer to the oven. Once the butter has melted, about 5 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and let cool. In a medium pot, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Add the corn, scallions and rosemary, if using, 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn starts to give off some liquid and softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the rosemary sprig. Stir the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt into the corn mixture. Tilt the baking pan so that the bottom gets coated in the melted butter, then pour the excess butter (do not scrape the dish) into the pot with the corn mixture. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs with a fork until combined. Add to the corn mixture along with 1/2 cup grated cheese and stir just until combined, taking care not to over mix. Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is set, 30 to 35 minutes. For a golden top, broil for a few minutes. Serve hot.

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