Guys, I have to apologize. I am about to be a tease.
Just as corn season is ending, I’m showing off a fresh corn recipe. And not just any fresh corn recipe, but one of the most magical and confoundingly delicious things I’ve made in a very long time.
It’s a pudding made from corn–and nothing else.
I know, right?
I’ve had the Temporary Vegetarian’s corn pudding recipe bookmarked for months. But I only just got around to making it last weekend, and I’m ashamed to admit that I was way skeptical. I knew what pudding was, and a bunch of corn grated into a skillet certainly did not sound like pudding. Soup, maybe, but not pudding.
But then at the farmer’s market this weekend, the cheery (and, it must be said, good-looking) young man at the corn stand mentioned that this was their last week of the season. The corn was gorgeous, and the prices were sharp. So I bought way more corn than should be seemly for a girl and her beau to eat, and twiddled my thumbs for a while trying to figure out what to do with it.
I remembered the recipe. I said, why the hell not?
Now, before I go any further, I should warn you that this recipe is a little messy. It involves standing a box grater in a cast-iron skillet and grating the milky, ripe-to-bursting corn kernels into it. If you try this, you will get corn milk all over your cheeks and in your hair. You will be covered in bits of kernel all the way up to your elbows. If you wear glasses, you will get tired of wiping them off. Your arms will get tired from all the grating. You will wonder why the hell anyone would be foolhardy enough to try this. I wondered, anyway.
But persevere, please. Because that skillet will go into the oven filled with liquefied corn, and come out filled with the most delicate, pure-tasting corn pudding imaginable.
I cannot explain this. I do not know what sorcery takes place once the oven door is closed. The corn on top turns chewy and golden; the corn underneath becomes wobbly and thick, almost tapioca-textured. It tastes like all the best parts of a cob of corn–the sugary milkiness, the soft bite of the kernels–without getting stuck in your teeth.
The original recipe calls for salt, pepper, butter and lime. That’s more fuss than this needs. I skipped the butter and lime, and Sam went even further: one taste, and he declared it needed no seasoning at all. None.
That’s one-ingredient cooking for you.
Corn Pudding (serves 2-3)
Adapted (if you can call it that) from the Temporary Vegetarian
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Stand a box grater in the middle of a cast-iron skillet*, and use the fine holes to grate 8 ears of fresh corn. You’ll be left with a giant puddle of corn milk studded with fluffy kernel-gratings.
Spread out the grated corn in an even layer. Bake until the liquid has thickened and the top is just golden, about 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper–if you even think it needs it–and serve directly from the skillet.
*I only had a 12-inch cast-iron skillet handy, so the pudding was spread thin and got very thick on top. If you use a 10-inch skillet, you’ll get a creamier, softer pudding.