In other years, the ones when it was safe to have guests, my favorite thing to ask when planning a Thanksgiving menu was for everyone to tell me what their essential dish is, the one if they come to dinner and it’s not on the table, they throw a (hopefully) muted, inner tantrum. This is where all menus should begin, right? It was from this question that I learned that after stuffing, naturally, and long before turkey (sorry, turkey), a dish I had not grown up with — corn pudding — is one of the most popular on American Thanksgiving tables. Because I usually respond, “Great! Now you know exactly what to bring!” and friends have delivered, I’ve since learned what I’d been missing and I’m now fully converted.
Corn pudding has Southern and Native American origins with innumerable variations throughout. The texture is often halfway between a quickbread and something more loose, better spooned than sliced (but not quite as fluffy as spoonbread). The one most friends grew up with was is a cinch — a box of Jiffy cornbread mix, and one can each of regular and cream corned, plus some eggs, milk, and a lot of butter. The version I’ve taken to at home is almost as simple, with a few tweaks. I enlist the corn that’s already in my pandemic freezer, brown butter, because corn with toasted butter is bliss, and for extra decadence, sour cream instead of milk or buttermilk. Half the corn is blended, the other half is left in intact kernels, and the result is something I’ve learned can disappear in under a day if you leave it on the counter with a spoon in it and plate next to it, i.e. the very best kind of food, the kind that makes itself right at home, as I hope we will all get to again with family and friends next year.
6 months ago: Beach Bean Salad
1 year ago: Roasted Cabbage with Walnuts and Parmesan
2 years ago: Drop Cornbread Biscuits
3 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
4 years ago: Root Vegetable Gratin
5 years ago: Kale and Caramelized Onion Stuffing
6 years ago: Smoked Whitefish Dip with Horseradish and Sticky Toffee Pudding
7 years ago: Perfect Uncluttered Chicken Stock
8 years ago: Granola-Crusted Nuts
9 years ago: Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings
10 years ago: Spaghetti with Chickpeas
11 years ago: Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti Squash
12 years ago: Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips
13 years ago: Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Apples
14 years ago: Dreamy Cream Scones
- 2 cups corn kernels, frozen (from a 10-ounce or 283-gram bag; no need to defrost) or fresh
- 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup, 4 ounces, or 115 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 7 tablespoons (55 grams) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (55 grams) cornmeal
In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend half — I just eyeball it — the corn until finely chopped.
Slice the butter into a few pieces. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, after it has melted — in a few minutes, light brown flecks will appear in the pan and it will smell toasty and wonderful. Briefly remove the pan from the heat; it will continue to cook to a nutty brown color just from the existing heat in the pan.
Pour off 2 tablespoons of the brown butter into a small dish and set aside. [See alt brown butter hot honey drizzle suggestion at the end.]
Add whole corn kernels, blended corn, salt, and cayenne to the brown butter in the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the corn is tender and brighter yellow. Scrape the corn and every single fleck of brown butter into a large bowl and whisk in sour cream. If the mixture still feels piping hot, let it cool for 5 minutes. If the sour cream cooled it to warm, no need to.
Whisk in eggs until well-combined. Sprinkle sugar and baking powder over batter surface and whisk thoroughly to ensure it’s well-distributed through the batter. Add flour and cornmeal and mix until just combined. Scrape batter into prepared dish.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Immediately drizzle reserved brown butter over batter. Add a few flakes of sea salt too, if you wish. Eat warm
Do ahead: Corn pudding keeps fantastically; I’d limit it to just one day at room temperature or keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Rewarm in a low oven.
With a brown butter hot honey drizzle: Whisk 1 to 2 tablespoons, to taste, hot honey (both of these are great ones) into the reserved brown butter. Warm gently if the mixture is not runny/pourable before drizzling it over the finished corn pudding.