Sunday, January 31, 2010

(Yorktowne) Corn Pudding

The corn pudding is in the oven as I start this post, so I will go back in time a little bit and tell you how I put it together. This is not a recipe I remember Gma making, and the handwriting on the card is not hers. It says (Yorktowne) in the corner, which makes me suspect that it's from the Yorktowne Hotel in downtown York. If so, it was probably a popular dish there, and getting the recipe might have been something of a challenge. (The Yorktowne's restaurants, especially the Commonwealth Room, are still considered some of the best in York.) I admit that this one word is what intrigued me more than anything else about the recipe, and made me decide that I had to try it.

Corn Pudding

1 lb. corn
1 pint half-and-half cream and milk (less milk)
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
salt to taste

Cook corn and drain. Grind in food grinder. Beat eggs and cream or milk and melted butter and salt. Dissolve cornstarch in small amount of the cream. Add along with sugar. Combine above with corn and put in casserole. Place casserole in pan of hot water which should be 1 inch deep, and bake in 350 oven for one hour or until firm.

Details after the jump.

I'm sure that you're supposed to make this with fresh corn, but it's January in New Jersey, so I went with frozen. As I mentioned last night, I don't have a food grinder, so I did the best I could with the food processor. I'm sure that a grinder would have yielded a more even consistency, but I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to end up with corn purée, so I decided to leave it when things were shy of that point, even if there were still some whole kernels, or almost whole kernels, in the mix.

I moved on to the eggs. Alton Brown and Jacques Pépin both crack eggs on a flat surface like your countertop or a plate.  Their theory is that cracking the eggs on a flat surface keeps bits of the shell from going into the egg. I've tried this method, and while I appreciate the reasoning, all I seem to do is end up with an egg that's very hard to open and that leaves bits of egg white trailing along the countertop or the plate. Julia Child cracks them on the edge of a mixing bowl. I've never been able to do that without making a mess, either. The only method that I have ever used successfully and consistently is the one that my seventh grade teacher taught me: I hold the egg in one hand and crack it with the edge of a butter knife. Yes, I occasionally have to dig bits of shell out of my egg, but overall it seems cleaner to me, and easier. I've never seen anyone else do it this way, so maybe I'm just weird. I'm pretty sure that everyone else in my family uses the edge of a bowl, so maybe that's truer than I know!

Anyway, I did my best with the corn, and then mixed up the rest of the pudding mixture. It really does call for a pint of liquid, which I found hard to believe when I saw how much corn there was. I had thought that maybe the amounts would be roughly equal, but not so. (I had a moment of mild panic when I realized how much liquid there was compared to the corn. I thought I'd read the recipe wrong and was only supposed to have a half-pint of half-and-half.) I am not entirely sure what the mixture of "half-and-half cream and milk (less milk)" even means. Is it all half-and-half? Could you use milk instead? Is it a mixture of half and half and milk? I had nearly a pint of half-and-half in the fridge, so I used that and made up the difference with milk. Hopefully it will turn out to be too heavy. I also wonder why it tells you to put the sugar in so late. As it is, I found a lot of sugar in the bottom of the bowl when I mixed the liquid with the corn. Fortunately, not so much was left after I put it in a casserole, but I do think that adding it sooner might solve this problem. The other thing that I found strange about this recipe is "salt to taste." I don't know about you, but I'm not likely to be judging the taste of anything that isn't fully combined and contains raw eggs. I added maybe half a teaspoon and hoped for the best. (I tend not to add it at all to things like soup that can be adjusted later, especially if I'm making it for other people whose tastes may differ from mine.)

I used my trusty 8 x 8 Pyrex dish again, and used a 9 x 13 aluminum pan for the water. I'm sure that it would be ideal to have the water all around the dish, but this was the only thing I had that was big enough to hold the Pyrex, so hopefully having the water on the sides will be fine. I'll find out in about 20 minutes!

Well, the pudding is out of the oven, after the hour suggested in the recipe. I stuck a cake tester in it, which came out clean, so I took it out. I wonder now if I should have let it brown a bit, but the texture is so light and fluffy that perhaps it was best not to, for fear of overcooking the eggs and ending up with something tough. It's sweet, though not overly so, and I also wonder what effect more salt would have. I'm not sure that I want to experiment too much, though, since the flavor I have is quite nice. And, no joke, the stuff melts in your mouth. I suspect, too, that the "ground" corn isn't too far off, and that I was right not to end up with something that is more like a purée, in which case you might not even notice the corn at all.

All told, I'd consider this another "fast and easy" recipe, and something to try if you're looking for a new twist on corn!


Tamar Wyschogrod said...

This recipe says breakfast to me! Am I crazy?

I would interpret "half and half cream and milk (less milk) to mean half cream, half milk, but more like 60-40 cream and milk.

Nancy said...

Given the eggs, I certainly don't see why you couldn't have it for breakfast!.I don't think that's crazy at all!

The weird thing about the half-and-half thing is that half-and-half already IS half cream and half milk. If the instructions were there to tell you what to do if you had no half-and-half but happened to have a cup or two of cream sitting around, they're not written too clearly. (That said, I had to add most of the punctuation in the directions, too, so anything's possible!)

Tamar Wyschogrod said...

I'm saying maybe it's not referring to half-and-half at all, but to half cream and half milk, period. I wonder how old the recipe is, and how long half-and-half has been available as a product - maybe this recipe predates it?

Nancy said...

I was with you on the half-and-half, though it's never occurred to me that the product itself may not have been around all that long. I have no idea how old the recipe is (there are no tell-tale signs of aging, so anything's possible), but you may be on to something...

Tamar Wyschogrod said...

I'm totally "cracking" up - just saw this commercial on TV and thought of you:

Your egg-cracking troubles are over!

Anonymous said...

Nancy, My Grandmother also persuaded the Yorktowne staff to give her the recipe. It's a German/Dutch version of Southern corn pudding.

The Yorktowne was a lovely place in the 1960's with its white table cloths, waiters in Colonial knickers, and Williamsburg atmosphere. Have you heard that it was sold,again?

York, PA

Nancy said...

I had not heard that the Yorktowne was sold! Thanks for the link!

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