One of the oldest and best of the truly American dishes enjoyed all across our country is corn pudding—sweet, just-ripe summer corn freshly cut from its cob, delicately seasoned and bound in a rich custard. It’s so popular that many Americans may be better acquainted with its out of season version made with canned cream-style corn. But while that’s good, it simply can’t compare with one made from fresh-from-the-field corn so naturally sweet that some old cookbooks suggested serving it with wine sauce as a dessert.
In the Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, corn comes into season just as the region’s tidal creeks and inlets are teeming with tiny but intensely sweet inlet shrimp. Local cooks make wide use of these delectable little crustaceans—marinated in a spicy bath of oil and lemon juice for a piquant hors d’oeuvres; folded into a velvety salad for sandwiches or for filling hollowed-out vine-ripe tomatoes; baked in the bright, herbal casing of the season’s first sweet bell peppers; and, of course, in that now widely celebrated pairing of shrimp and grits.
Not surprisingly, Lowcountry cooks also love to pair this seasonal delicacy with fresh corn. Their natural sweetness makes them ideal complements. Corn also adds sweetness and delicacy to the heftier large shrimp from deeper waters that are more readily found in other parts of the country and gives a lift to shrimp that have been frozen. The secret is to use the freshest, sweetest, most tender young corn that you can find.
Shrimp and Corn Pudding
4 to 6 ears fresh corn
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whole white pepper in a peppermill
Ground cayenne pepper
Whole nutmeg in a grater
1 pound small to medium shrimp, peeled, or large shrimp cut in half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1. Cut kernels off cobs and scrape off milky bits. You should have about 3 cups corn.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat; add onion and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and turn off heat.
4. Scrape mixture into a large bowl; add corn, eggs and half-and-half. Season with salt, white and cayenne peppers, and a generous grating of nutmeg; mix well. In a separate bowl, toss shrimp in flour and shake off excess. Fold shrimp into corn batter.
5. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish and pour in batter. Bake about 1 hour, until set and lightly browned. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Recipe by Damon Lee Fowler
Per serving: 420 calories, 14g fat, 39g prot., 34g carbs., 8g fiber, 690 mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn