Thursday, July 24, 2008

Glorious Corn

By some strange coincidence, I found out I was not allergic to corn and started reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma around the same time. The significance of this is that I have been allergic to corn for most of my life, always wearing a frown around corn on the cob season, missing out on mouthfuls of buttery popcorn at the movies, and suffering from asthma attacks when I just couldn't take it anymore, and ate a whole bag of Doritos (okay, so this may have happened a few times).

So I went to the allergist, got 60 shots (yes, that is 6-0 as in SIXTY and yes, it hurt), and found out I’m allergic to about 25 new things, but I’m no longer allergic to corn!!!

Enter The Omnivore’s Dilemma- a book about the American food chain, all of which can be inevitably linked back to corn. Now, there are some pretty disturbing facts about corn in this book; how it’s been chemically manipulated, how it’s fed to the cattle (which are not naturally corn eaters) to fatten them up for slaughter, and why corn is actually making farmers poor.

So yeah, not necessarily a happy story about corn, but in conjunction with my major life discovery, I've been thinking about corn a lot... and now all I want to do is eat corn!

In the past month since the tests and since I began the book, I’ve had corn on the cob five times, popcorn, nachos, canned corn, corn salad, corn cakes, polenta, Texas caviar, and I think there was some corn in the quesadillas prepared for me last weekend.

If you are what you eat, then for the first time in 20 years, I have become corn.

So in honor of this momentous occasion, I’d like to share one of my favorite corn recipes, found in Bon Appetit’s February issue: Corn and Bacon Pie (because if you’re going to eat corn, you might as well eat bacon and Gruyere cheese, too).

Crust:1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup fine-grind whole grain cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening (preferably with no trans fats), diced
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling:1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper1
12-ounce package frozen corn kernels (2 1/2 cups), thawed, patted dry
1 1/2 cups half and half
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)

For crust:Whisk first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Using back of fork, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water. Toss until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Shape dough into disk. Wrap; chill at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Place large piece of parchment paper on work surface. Place dough in center; cover with second sheet of parchment. Roll out dough to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment. Using bottom parchment as aid, turn dough over into prepared pie dish. Carefully peel off remaining parchment. Fit crust into dish, sealing any tears. Fold excess dough under and crimp edges, forming highstanding rim.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.For filling:Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings. Add onion and pepper to skillet. Sauté until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add corn; sauté until very tender, about 3 minutes longer.Whisk next 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Mix in green onions, then corn mixture. Sprinkle bacon, then cheese over bottom of crust. Pour in egg mixture.Bake pie until filling is golden and just set in center, about 55 minutes. Let pie cool at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Serve slightly warm.

1 comment:

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