There are few foods that I dislike and cream corn is near the top of that list. Until now. I guess that’s because the only kind of cream corn I’ve tried has been that out of a can, which is totally disgusting as far as I’m concerned. As a kid I don’t remember having to eat it whenever we had it for dinner, probably because I loved almost everything else so my parents let me slide.
I was looking for a recipe for a corn and cheese casserole that did not include any type of bread and ran across one from Saveur.com that looked great, mainly because it included a pièce de résistance: bacon. Fresh corn, cheese AND bacon — I knew I had to give it a try. We are all glad that I did – everyone loved it. I changed the recipe some by doubling the bacon (no surprise there) and adding some red bell pepper and sweet onion. What a rich, creamy, sweet yet slightly smoky casserole that melts in your mouth! The only thing I would do different next time is to triple the bacon.
Ingredients (Serves 12)
- 8 slices of bacon, cut into quarters (omit the bacon and bacon grease for a meatless version)
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup sweet onion, diced small
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese (made with 2% milk), shredded
- 4 oz. cream cheese (I used low-fat), softened
- 2 oz. Velveeta® cheese (I used reduced fat), cubed
- 3 ½ cups (about 6 ears) fresh sweet corn kernels (you can use frozen corn)
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced small
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Spanish Paprika
- Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook bacon over medium heat in a 6-quart saucepan until it is nice and crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and discard all of the grease except 1 tablespoon. Once the bacon has cooled, crumble it into small pieces.
Add the butter to the bacon grease and heat until melted. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the flour, a little bit at a time. Slowly whisk in the milk, a cup or so at a time, stirring constantly to keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens.
Add the cheddar, cream cheese and Velveeta® and stir until blended.
Stir in the corn, red pepper and bacon and mix well. Season with the paprika, salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture into a greased 9”x13” casserole dish (I use cooking spray). Sprinkle the top with some more paprika and ground pepper.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top starts turning nice and brown. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve as a side dish with chicken (or some other meat) and a salad. And don’t be surprised when people go back for seconds!
Eat, drink and be merry!
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