I love, love, love a creamy summer corn casserole (or corn pudding). I mean, I pretty much love all things corn from Caramelized Corn Pudding to zesty Chimichurri Corn Casserole or sophisticated Parmigiano Basil Baked Corn, I am shucking those ears all summer long. Twist up the ingredients on a classic recipe and you end up with a whole new experience. Here, smoked cheese, smoked bacon and smoked paprika add a perfectly, well, smoky note to fresh summer corn. Which makes it particularly well suited as a side to a grilled meal. I love the surprise of the smokiness in what seems like a simple, basic corn dish when you put it on the table. Something off the grill, some fresh sliced tomatoes and you have Southern summer perfection!
Pureeing some of the corn makes this casserole particularly creamy (it’s the fresh way, instead of using canned creamed corn). I often find bacon labelled double smoked (Wright’s does one) but use the smokiest bacon you can find. Look for naturally smoked cheddar cheese, which I find in the fancier cheese cases rather than with the shreds and slices – you could also use a smoked gouda. That extra hit of smoky paprika takes this over the top. And if you happen to have some smoked salt, use that as well.
Smoky Bacon Corn Casserole
5 strips of smoked bacon (double smoked if you can find it)
6 ears fresh corn
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon bacon grease (or melted butter)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Many grinds of fresh black pepper
6 ounces naturally smoked cheddar cheese, grated
- Cook the bacon by your favorite method until crispy. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease.
- Cut the kernels from the corn into a bowl. Transfer about half of the kernels to a blender or food processor. Add the egg, heavy cream, flour, sugar, bacon grease, salt, paprika and pepper. Blend until pureed and smooth. Pour the puree into the bowl with the remaining corn. Crumble 4 strips of bacon into the bowl, then add all but 2 Tablespoons of the grated cheese. Stir to combine well. Spread the corn mixture into a greased, 2-quart baking dish, smoothing the top. Crumble over the remining bacon slice and the last of the cheese. Sprinkle decoratively with smoked paprika. At this stage, you can cover and refrigerate the casserole for up to a day.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until the casserole is heated through and browned on the top, about 30 minutes.