I finally found a Thanksgiving dish that has Ed looking forward to turkey day. I’ve written before about how Ed’s chief Thanksgiving complaint is that the food doesn’t have enough crunch or heat. This dish, an easy-breezy, decadently cheesy corn casserole, has crunch and spice to spare. It’s one of the simplest, but most satisfying holiday sides I’ve made and I have a feeling it’s going to be in the rotation for years.
I came upon the recipe in Bon Appétit’s online-only “Cooking without Recipes” feature, but it really deserves to be in print. I found this November’s Bon to be disappointing—I’m sad to say that I didn’t dog-ear a single recipe. Maybe the notion of melting cream cheese into canned corn is beneath the editors of the magazine, but don’t let it be beneath you. I admit to raising an eyebrow when I saw the canned corn in the recipe, but it actually tastes the same as thawed frozen corn and it’s much easier to use (one might even say it’s a can of corn).
The recipe begins on the stovetop and finishes for a short time in the oven, which I think is pretty close to ideal for a Thanksgiving side. Added bonus: no fancy techniques to worry about on a busy cooking day; simply soften diced garlic and jalapeño in butter, pour in corn, stir in more butter, cream cheese, cheddar, and parmesan, taste for salt and pepper (be amazed at how delicious it is already), add more cheese if you want to, then spread it in a baking dish, top it with breadcrumbs (or crushed Cheez-Its if you’re feeling really wild), more parmesan, chopped herbs and bake for fifteen minutes. The result is hot and spicy, gooey, corny nirvana that is going to steal your Thanksgiving show.
Ed took one bite and looked at me like, “where have you been hiding this for the last six and a half years.” We stood at the counter hunched over the casserole, taking turns shoveling the hot corn directly from the dish to our mouths. By the time we pulled ourselves away to sit down to the rest of our food, we were too full to eat anything else but more corn. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We also both commented on how it tastes like it would be an awesome party dip (probably the cream cheese-jalapeño combination). I haven’t tried it that way yet, but I have a feeling that leftovers will find their way onto some Fritos come November 25.
spicy cheesy corn casserole
adapted from bon appétit
I didn’t have breadcrumbs when I first tried this recipe, so I crushed some white cheddar Cheez-Its and used those instead. I dare say it was a stroke of genius that adds even more salty, cheesy flavor to an already flavorful dish.
This can be prepped a day in advance up to the step when you add the breadcrumb topping, which should be added shortly before baking on the day-of.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 jalapeño, diced (keep as many seeds as you can handle, or none if you don’t want it spicy)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of corn, drained (NOT creamed corn)
1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese
1 cup* grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided (*you might want more or less)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or crushed white cheddar Cheez-Its
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme and/or sage
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until softened, but not browned. Stir in the drained corn, the block of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, and stir until blended and evenly melted. Taste for salt and pepper and cheese. Add the rest of the cheddar cheese (or more) if necessary and stir until incorporated.
Pour corn mixture into a baking dish. (You can stop here and refrigerate the corn mixture for up to one day). Top with the breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan, and herbs. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.