if the title of this dish doesn’t make you stop and look, then there is something terribly wrong with you. or you are a vegetarian. or you have a corn allergy. or you are from mars. but here and all at once you’ll be delighted to find: cream, corn, french fried onions, bacon, butter and cheese. hey – it’s holiday food. live a little. or kill yourself slowly. in this instance they’re one and the same.
timing being everything i came across this recipe while hunting for some new ideas for the big T day. this one was from bon appétit’s ’03 november issue and the restaurant widow was vouching for it bigtime. so i decided it was ‘in‘ and put the ingredients on my shopping list and bookmarked the epicurious page.
somehow this dish took friggin forever to make. and you know why? because i decided that after years of ‘durkee french fried onions’, i was going to make my own even though some of the epicurious comments said to go for the canned. what were those folks thinking? i mean, i, like many of you grew up on “durkee’s atop the green beans in the condensed mushroom soup” scenario - which i will never ever eat again no matter what. i could be a contestant on ‘fear factor‘ and i am not touching that glop. i know it all too well - and i wouldn’t go there nor expect you to. not even for the sake of gaining an extra 30 ‘onion slicing/dredging/frying’ minutes of my life back… not, dear readers, after all we have meant to each other over these past 6 or so months. it’s scratcharooni or bust. you can count on me.
i made both the top and bottom the day before and stored them separately. i followed the recipe exactly – except for the 5 or so changes i made. so i guess that’s not really exactly. anyway, here’s my version.
creamed corn gratin with fried onion rings and bacon
(adapted from bon appétit’s nov. 03 recipe)
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless french bread
7 thick bacon slices, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour – or more if you need it
1 large red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup (or more) vegetable oil
10 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups frozen corn kernels (about 2 pounds 6 ounces)
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated monterey jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
preheat oven to 350°f. spread breadcrumbs on rimmed baking sheet. bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.
sauté bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. transfer 2 tablespoons bacon drippings to heavy large pot; reserve for creamed corn. discard remaining drippings.
place flour in medium bowl. sprinkle with salt and pepper. separate red onion slices into rings and toss in flour to coat lightly. heat 1/2 cup oil in same large skillet over medium-high heat. working in batches, add onion rings to skillet and cook until golden brown, adding more oil as needed, about 2 minutes per side. transfer onion rings to paper towels. mix breadcrumbs, bacon, onion rings, and half of green onions in clean medium bowl. sprinkle topping with salt and pepper.
butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. add butter to pot with reserved bacon drippings; melt over medium-high heat. add chopped onion; sauté until light golden and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. add frozen corn; sauté 5 minutes. add milk and cream; bring to boil. gradually stir in grits and cayenne pepper. reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. remove from heat. stir in cheese and remaining green onions. season with salt and pepper. transfer creamed corn to prepared dish. (topping and corn can be made 1 day ahead. cover separately and chill.)
preheat oven to 350°f. bake gratin uncovered 25 minutes. sprinkle topping over; bake until topping is slightly crisp and creamed corn thickens and is heated through, about 20 minutes longer.
i wish i’d taken a prettier shot but it’s just not that kind of dish. no need pretending we’ve got the makings of food porn here.
it’s just all the right stuff in a pan.