I’m at it again with the cheesy pie! So, remember the spaghetti squash pie from last fall? My most popular blog post to date for reasons that I can’t grasp completely? I’m taking a shot in the dark, guessing the reason y’all love it so much is because it’s a) in pie form and b) full of cheese, and hoping that you’ll like this cheddar sweet corn pie for all the same reasons.
You definitely get bonus points for hunting down some fresh summer sweet corn and sawing it off the cob (or 6 cobs) yourself, and those bonus points come in the form of juicy, bursting kernels in every bite of sweet corn pie. The truth is, though, I’ve tasted some pretty darn good frozen sweet corn, especially when opting for the organic variety (I get mine at Trader Joe’s). While it was severed from its cob long ago, frozen corn will be 99.999999% as rewarding as fresh in this pie. And you don’t have to deal with shucking and those super annoying corn hairs that get stuck in your teeth and the crevices of your kitchen.
What has manifested as sweet corn pie actually started out, and I guess still is, part of the gratin challenge. Madison names it corn pudding in the book, and the first time I made the recipe that’s basically what it was. I scooped it out of the pan into a big pile of cheesy corn on our plates, leaving a trail of corn juice in the pan. Corn juice: it’s a thing. I set up a photo shoot for the first attempt, but days went by and I just kept thinking about those pictures. Obsessing. They weren’t what I was going for. Generally, when I bake something in a pie plate, I want it to look like pie. Not a steaming pile of cheesy corn, however delicious it might be.
In the end, I had to make it again. I knew it could be better, and I’m including it in the upcoming first free NCK weekly meal plan, so I wanted to make sure it’s quick enough for a weeknight. Oh, and of course, I wanted a cohesive pie slice. Unlike real life (sometimes), I got everything I wanted. Here’s how: I cut back on the liquid, left out the corn juice, added an extra egg, and, instead of sharp cheddar, made sure to go for nice soft mild cheddar and fontina. Cheese party up in here. I cut out the whole ordeal of making fresh bread or cracker crumbs in the food processor, which not everyone has, and used panko for the best of both (bread and cracker) worlds. I baked the pie at a slightly higher temp than in the original recipe to cut down on cook time and get a little bit of a golden brown color on top. And I added chives, because I had them in the fridge and they add color, freshness, and contrast. Totally optional on the herbs, though.
Sweet corn pie comes as a welcome break to a new dinner routine that Steve and I have going called…beans and rice. For days. I mentioned that I’m trying to discipline myself to cut down on elaborate dinner recipes in the wake of our upcoming wedding, which resulted in a very large pot of overly spicy black beans this week. I did so good cooking in bulk to prep for the week, but I loaded those beans down with some super fresh and potent hot peppers from last week’s CSA pickup. I mean, they didn’t smell that strong when I was cutting them up, so I figured any heat would get tamed as I sweated down the peppers and onions. Ummmm, not this time. I can barely eat the things short of a huge dollop of sour cream and/or half an avocado to cool the spice factor. Tonight I’ll continue my pilgrimage through the bean leftovers with approximately three spicy bites, accompanied by a big ol’ piece of cheesy sweet corn pie.
In all honesty, I’m not sure how long I’ll last staying out of the kitchen to focus on wedding planning. Yesterday I had the whole day free to develop the first NCK meal plan and do silly activities like shop for wedding shoes. Dream come true, right? Wrong. I’m quickly realizing that both cooking and physical activity are crucial to my happiness. All day yesterday I was just kind of sullen and unmotivated, literally staring at my computer screen with hours to spare and I couldn’t bring myself to type a single word. Call it an off day, but given my career path, I think I might be right on the money. Obviously, balancing modern life and making a living with our innermost needs for creativity and movement is a huge challenge. I’m lucky enough to have embarked on this journey of business ownership, but that doesn’t mean I can just play in the kitchen and practice yoga all day long. So I’ll just keep evaluating day-to-day, working in a little more time in the kitchen and on the mat, and hopefully keeping stress in check until November 7th arrives!
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- 2 T butter (plus extra for the dish)
- 1 C finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 4 C fresh or thawed corn kernels (6 large ears)
- ⅔ C milk - I use half plant milk and half dairy milk or half and half
- 2 C (about 8 oz.) grated soft cheese - I use half mild cheddar and half fontina
- ¾ C panko bread crumbs
- 1 t kosher or sea salt
- ¾ t ground white pepper
- 3 T chopped fresh chives, optional
- 3 eggs
- Paprika (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 (F) and move rack above middle position. Lightly butter a standard sized pie plate.
- Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 4 minutes, until slightly browned at edges. Turn heat down to medium, add garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Combine onion/garlic mixture in a medium mixing bowl with corn, milk, 1½ cup cheese, ½ cup panko, salt and pepper, and chives. After stirring, add eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
- Melt remaining ½ tablespoon butter, let cool slightly, then combine with ¼ cup panko, ½ cup cheese, ½ tablespoon chives, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the pie filling. Bake (on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling) about 35 minutes, until slightly puffed, set, and beginning to brown. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving, topped with a dash of paprika and more chives, if desired.
- The pie keeps well for a couple days (at least) when prepared and baked in advance. It would be delicious for an end of summer brunch! Just add mimosas.
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