Monday, September 5, 2011

Jalapeño Corn Pudding

It's corn season and everywhere you look, fresh, plump, golden ears are ready to be shucked, cooked quickly and slathered with butter, added to chowders or made into light and fluffy corn puddings. I found this fabulous Jalapeño Corn Pudding recipe in an old issue of Bon Appétit. A reader had requested the corn pudding recipe from the Lido Restaurant at the Dolphin Bay Resort in California. It sounded just perfect as a side dish for my southwestern baby back ribs that I was making for the Labour Day long weekend. If you like bread pudding, corn bread, and Southwestern flavors, you'll love this full-flavoured corn pudding. 

Fresh corn, onion, diced jalapeno, cream and cornmeal are sautéed in butter to the consistency of loose polenta. Diced scallions, red bell pepper, cilantro and four egg yolks are then added for a hit of colour and extra texture. Just before baking, four egg whites are whisked and folded in to create a light pillowy soufflé-style batter, which is poured into a buttered gratin dish and topped with a handful of sharp cheddar cheese. Baked for about half an hour, this savoury side-dish puffs up to a deliciously savory, moist and slightly spicy corn pudding, that will leave your guests begging for more. Traditional corn pudding, a classic southern comfort food, can range from ultra-rich and creamy to something quite light and simple. This Jalapeño Corn Pudding falls into both camps. The pudding has a hint of sweetness with a great balance of flavors and textures — the perfect addition to Barbecued Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Chicken or any outdoor southern-inspired feast.

Jalapeño Corn Pudding

Serves 8 
Inspired by a recipe from Bon Appétit - L
ido at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa  

2 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cups fresh corn kernels

1/3 cup finely chopped, seeded, jalapeño peppers

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

4 large eggs, separated

1 3/4 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese or monterey jack

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish or 6-8 ramekins. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion, corn, jalapeño and garlic until onion is soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cornmeal. Add milk and cream, and stir over medium heat until a thick batter forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in red peppers, green onions, cilantro, 1 cup of cheese, 1 tsp salt, and black pepper; cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile whip the egg whites in a separate bowl with a tiny pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Mix the egg yolks into the cooled-down pudding batter, then gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish, or ramekins, and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cups of cheese. Bake the pudding until the top is golden and the centre is just set, about 35 - 45 minutes. Serve immediately.