One of my favorite restaurants back home serves a mean creamed corn. Decadent, syrupy-sweet, almost like a custard. (Whenever my dad orders it and the waitress asks if we’d like dessert, he always says, “Got my dessert right here!” and holds it up with big grin. My father is a faithful subscriber to the school of Jolly Dad Banter.) To me, it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods, a dish that typifies warm, indulgent Southern nourishment.
This version is a little more dressed-up, and a little bit less dessert, but I liked the greater depth that a few extra veggies and some crisped-up bacon added to the mix. It’s also pretty awesomely easy to throw together for such a vibrant dish, especially if you have the bacon ready beforehand. Of course, if you’re short on ingredients or time, just go to town with corn, cream, milk, and butter, and omit all the extra fixings. The sweet corn does all the work, really. (Along with a good dose of fat.)
I also love the quick roux in this. I don’t know if it’s essential, really, but it’s just kinda fun. I’m a sucker for a good roux — a gem from a different South than my own. (And roux is an awesome word. “Blonde roux”? Cooking ingredient … or comic book minx? You tell me.) If you’ve never made one, it sounds fancier than it is. Just melt a bit of butter however you like, in the microwave or in a pan over medium-low heat, mix in equal parts flour, watch in melt into a rich paste that darkens and gives off a rich, nutty aroma, and add it to your sauce or dish when it’s at the right color. It’s a richer thickener than your average cornstarch, but feel free to skip it if you don’t want the extra hassle. Either way, enjoy! As written, this makes about four servings as a side dish and served the two of us for two meals; doubled (or tripled?!), I think this would be a solid addition to any dinner party.
- ½ cup diced sweet white onion
- 1 green chili pepper, diced (I used Korean green gochu, but you could also use a deseeded jalapeno or serrano; if you leave the seeds in, best to use half the pepper)
- 3-4 rashers bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 cups corn (sweet white corn if possible; both frozen and fresh will do)
- generous shake of coarse black pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- If you haven’t prepared your bacon yet, do that first -- I generally like to bake a large batch and then freeze some for use in cooking. Either panfry or bake to your liking (I like it crisp, baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes -- so easy! so delicious!), then chop or crumble into small pieces. Set aside.
- Heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté diced onions with a shake of salt and pepper until soft and translucent. Add the diced chili pepper and continue to cook for about 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large pot, combine cream, milk, salt, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the corn, black pepper, bacon, diced chili pepper, and onions, then bring it back to a boil. Add a dash of black pepper (however much you like), then turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer as you prepare a super quick white roux.
- In a separate pan (or, if you’re feeling lazy, in a bowl in the microwave) melt the butter, then add the flour and stir until the mixture becomes a paste (or, roux). The moment it becomes a roux it’s just a white roux -- you can darken it a bit to a blond before adding to the creamed corn but it’s not really necessary. At any rate, add it to the corn mixture and stir until it thickens to your liking (it took me about 3-4 minutes). And serve.