Green chile corn pudding
When I hear bad news, my first inclination is to eat. While that’s perhaps not the most constructive way to deal with stress, it does make life better, at least temporarily. Some people like to indulge in sweet things when they’re feeling anxious, but I’ve always leaned towards the savory. I’ll take starch over sugar any day.
Recent events had me feeling out of sorts, and true to my nature I wanted a comforting dish. My first thought was to make macaroni and cheese, but I checked my inbox and saw a letter from a reader inquiring if I had a recipe for green chile corn casserole to share. He explained that he’d been craving it, and since he had lots of sweet corn and Hatch chiles, he wanted to put to them to good use.
Corn casserole or corn pudding, as it’s traditionally known, is an old Texan favorite. While these days we typically think of pudding as being dessert, hundreds of years ago it was defined as a dish thickened with grains, which meant puddings could be both sweet and savory.
Early Texan recipes for corn pudding were made with only corn, eggs, and cream with maybe a touch of sugar. Along the way, however, recipes evolved and people started adding aromatics, cornmeal, cheese, and sometimes even chiles, too. Indeed, when all those ingredients come together, it does make for solace in a dish. My reader had the right idea, and I knew what I would make.
For my green chile corn pudding, I started with a Taylor County recipe from the late 1800s that called for corn, eggs, butter, and cream. Using that as my base, I took the lead from other recipes and added a little bit of cornmeal to thicken the custard. I added some garlic and spices for more flavor and then threw in roasted green chiles for a touch of earthy heat. To finish, I topped the casserole off with Monterey Jack cheese.
The result was like a happy marriage between quiche and creamed corn, with the sweet corn and green chiles nestled in a cheesy, custardy base. Each bite was soft and yielding, but there was enough fire and spice to keep things interesting. Likewise, it was luxurious without being heavy and it took little time to make, all of which made it terrific for late summer. This was Texan comfort food at its finest.
Typically, corn puddings are served as a side, though it works well as a light main dish, too. And while it’s not traditional breakfast fare, I find it delicious in the mornings, either warm or cold. But no matter if you’re looking for a way to use up an abundance of corn and green chiles, or simply seeking some cheer in a dish, this green chile corn pudding has just what you need.
Green chile corn pudding
- 2 Hatch, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ears of corn, kernels removed or 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of cayenne
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup half and half
- Roast the Hatch, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and dice.
- When the chiles are ready, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large ovenproof skillet, preferably a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, on low heat melt the butter. (If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, lightly grease a 9-inch square-baking dish for the pudding, and melt the butter in a saucepan.) Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and swirl the butter around the base of the skillet and the sides to lightly grease it.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the diced chiles, corn, garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, cayenne, melted butter, and 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the cornmeal and baking powder. Whisk together the eggs and half and half, and then pour them over the corn. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Pour the corn mixture back into the skillet (or a baking dish if using that instead) and sprinkle evenly over the top the rest of the cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the custard is set. (The color may be a little lighter in the center, but that’s okay.) Allow the pudding to rest int the skillet for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving.
Took it to Thanksgiving Dinner and it was a huge hit and went very quickly! I used mostly masa harina and a little bit of medium-grind corn meal. I also didn't have cilantro, and used sharp-aged cheddar instead of jack.
I made a version of this tonight without the roasted chillies (but extra cayenne) and used frozen sweet corn. It was delicious! Can't wait to try again with the toasted chillies.
Making this for breakfast for my children’s visit. We are all homesick Texans! I’ve had this recipe for many years and have made for my entire family in Virginia. Main difference is fresh as apposed to canned corn and peppers. Will try your version. Thanks, and I love your blog!
JoJo–Thank you for the kind words and I hope y’all enjoy the corn pudding!
I’m so glad you featured this dish on your front page–corn pudding is also something I grew up with in the midwest, usually known as scalloped corn, and my grandmother’s recipe is very similar to yours with about the same amounts of corn, eggs, milk instead of half and half–but got around that with adding some melted butter–and cornmeal as a thickener although many midwestern recipes used cracker crumbs. My mom added cheese, and our farm produced whole milk was rich in comparison with what is available as whole milk in today’s supermarkets. I love this version with green chilies–I also added some sauteed onion and red bell pepper for color (my mom used canned “mexicorn” with the red and green pepper), and with so much fresh corn in season, have made it twice this month. A “forgotten” recipe, it’s going to show up on our Thanksgiving table, too
Thanks so much for this recipe! We enjoyed it thoroughly. I can think of so many options
Having made this, next time I think I’ll either add crumbled bacon or sausage to it … it’s a BOMB BREAKFAST sort of similar to Quiche
Rob–I love the idea of adding bacon or sausage to the dish and serving it for breakfast!