This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother. It was always one of the “sacred side dishes” served for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I was growing up. And as a young adult starting my own traditions, I always served this dish or carried it with me if I was not the hostess. For one thing, the taste is completely unique. (I like that!) And truly, what’s not to like when you glance at the ingredients? And you’re right. My grandmother didn’t use Italian bread crumbs. But you know that most of the time I simply can’t leave a recipe alone, even if said recipe is a hand down from my own grandmother! (Doesn’t speak too highly of my character, now does it?) Anyway, character flaws aside, please trust me when I say that this corn dish is really, really tasty.
Drying the corn imparts a rich, nutty flavor to the corn. In essence, this casserole is a corn pudding. Easy to prepare and serve. Over the years I have made a couple of changes that I feel even make the casserole more appealing. I prepare the dish and then set it aside for a couple of hours to allow the corn to reconstitute a bit. This results in a more tender corn kernel and an overall softer finished product. I also don’t add extra salt to the dish. There is plenty enough salt in the bread crumbs and of course in the cheese.
Although the prep time on this dish is low, it’s best to dry the corn well ahead of when you will actually need it. Then all that’s left is a little cheese grating action and your casserole is assembled in no time flat. Set it aside, then bake it off, and you have yourself a delicious and totally different take on corn pudding. Thank you grandma Kléber for this recipe and for all the love you gave me as a child. (And yes, I know grandma can hear me even as I think about what I’m going to write. She almost always knew what thoughts were percolating in my brain before I did! Why should it be any different now just because she’s in heaven?)
- dried corn (see drying instructions below)
- ½ c. dried bread crumbs (I use Italian dried bread crumbs)
- 2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
- roughly 3½ c. milk (your choice)
- dried parsley
- 1 T. butter
Lightly butter a 2-3 quart covered casserole dish. Pour half the dried corn in bottom of dish. Cover with half the bread crumbs and half the cheese. Layer remaining corn, bread crumbs, and cheese in same order. Pour in enough milk to cover all the contents. Sprinkle lightly with parsley and dot with butter.
Cover and allow to sit for about 2 hours before baking in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Place 2 lbs. frozen corn kernels on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets (the kind with a rim) in a single layer. Dry the corn by baking it in the oven on the lowest temperature setting until there is no moisture left in the kernels. Turn occasionally. (It could take as many as 16 hours to dry out the corn completely.) When dry, the corn kernels should resemble grape nuts. (Different color, but you get the picture.) Store the dried corn in an airtight container. No need to refrigerate or freeze.