Listen, this is a safe space. So you can go ahead and admit that the countdown to being off of work Thanksgiving is the only thing on your mind. I get it. I’m ready too. My company was generous enough to host a Thanksgiving lunch last Friday and it really got me in the mood. I’ve been craving gravy and PSL’s and All The Sides ever since. Emphasis on All The Sides because turkey has never will never be the main event of my Turkey Day dinner. Team Side Dish for life. And there were sides aplenty at this particular meal. It had me drooling and scheming all day. One bite and my mind went straight into menu-planning mode - the green beans, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the possibilities!
But because we’re flying the coop this year (for which I am immensely grateful after two straight weeks of smokey weather, good GAWD) I had to make the traditional Thanksgiving cooking happen this past weekend. And oh yes ma’am, happen it did. I cooked a borderline ridic amount of food for two people - mashed potatoes, marbled bundt cake, jalapeño poppers (from scratch, duh!), blackened sole fillets, steamed broccoli, and this simple, perfect savory corn pudding. This bronzed beauty is by far my favorite thing I cooked this weekend, and would absolutely be on my table if Thanksgiving were at home this year. It would also be the easiest thing I’ve ever made for a Friendsgiving, hand-down. (I’m generally not competitive, but for some reason I am so extra with Friendsgiving; see that one time I flew cross-country with cheesecake brownies in tow.)
While traditional corn pudding is naturally sweet, this one does an excellent job of being equally as savory and just as piquant as you want (choose your own adventure with the jalapeño seeds). It’s like a freshened-up riff on jalapeño cornbread, made with ingredients you can get at a basic corner grocery that come together in a one bowl, plop and stir situation. (Sounds much better than ‘dump and stir,’ don’t you think?) The short and uncomplicated ingredient list makes prep a cinch in that very nostalgic, Betty Crocker-esque way that is genuinely difficult to mess up. Just grab the sharpest cheddar you can find, a fresh jalapeño (if you can), and everything else will fall in line.
And no matter what you cook or how long you spend in the kitchen this year, I hope you get to spend even more time loving on your people - giving hugs and chatting about nothing, tipsily kissing them too many times on the face. It’s cheesy, but I mean it. My gang-gang is the main thing keeping me alive and thriving through these weird times. The people I cook for - shit, having people to cook for in the first place - will always be the one thing above all else that I have to give thanks for. Happy Turkey Day, players!
Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Pudding, adapted from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, Hungry for More
Serves 6 as a side
2 tbsp butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup heavy cream
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (some or all of seeds removed if you’re sensitive to heat)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 (10 oz) frozen sweet corn
1 batch Cream-style corn (recipe follows) OR 1 (15 oz) can of cream-style corn
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with butter. Set aside about ⅓ cup of the grated cheddar to use for topping.
In a large-ish bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and heavy cream until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Then add the minced jalapeño, the remaining cheddar, the frozen and cream-style corn, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk until combined. Dip your finger in for a taste and add more salt if needed.
Pour the pudding into the greased baking pan and top with the reserved cheese. Bake until just set, about 45 minutes, but start checking at 30. Fire up the broiler and broil until the top is browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Dig in!
1 10-oz bag of frozen sweet corn, finely chopped or pulsed in food processor
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and stir for 7 to 10 minutes, checking two or three times along the way. Corn is ready when it has wilted down slightly and it’s liquid has thickened into a gravy.