Tonight Barnaby, Sheri, and my husband John and I are joining other friends and Barnaby's parents for dinner. We are making Donna Brazile's mama's gumbo from her book Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America. Donna graced us with her presence at an event for the Washington Women Lawyers last week and inspired us personally, politically, and yes - gastronomically. As our contribution, John and I are bringing this corn pudding and two South African wines - Goats in Villages, a Shiraz Pinotage blend from South African winemaker Goats Do Roam, and a Sauvignon Blanc from Porcupine Ridge, another South African bottle from the Cape of Good Hope. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Butter: 1 stick
Corn: yellow or white, frozen or fresh, 5 cups (approx 6-8 ears)
Shallots: 1/2 cup (finely minced)
Jalepenos: 1/4 cup (or to taste, seeded; finely minced)
Onion: 2 tablespoons (finely minced)
Milk: 1 cup
Half-and-Half: 1 cup
Yellow Cornmeal or Polenta: 1/2 cup
Ricotta Cheese: 1 cup
Eggs: 5 large or 4 extra-large (I don't use extra-large eggs, my mom said they come from older chickens - not sure if that's true, but it's turned me away from the big ones - if you have thoughts on this, I'd love to hear it.)
Herbs: chives or basil is nice, though you can experiment with the herbs or include a mixture (approx 3 tablespoons or to taste)
Sugar: 1 tablespoon
Salt: Kosher, 1 tablespoon
Pepper: 3/4 teaspoon (I prefer a mixture of black and white, but you may use either or include pink and green peppercorns as well if you like)
Cheese: I like to ad 3/4 cup of finely grated extra-sharp cheddar, though you may also want to try other cheeses (save a little to sprinkle on top)
Optional Ingredients: You may also add finely minced red pepper, replace the shallot with onion, add green onions, the choices are almost limited. Experiment and let me know what you think works well.
I am preparing this dish for a dinner party tonight and prepared the batter in advance to bake at my Barnaby and Sheri's house. I plan to assemble the ingredients and bake at their house in order to serve warm and fresh. I was concerned that joining the ingredients too early would cause my pudding to be too oniony - so, I prepared my ingredients into 5 main components: (a) dry ingredients; (b) wet ingredients (milks, eggs, ricotta); (c) butter with vegetables (onions, shallot, jalepeno, etc); (d) grated cheese; (e) herbs; (f) corn (fresh or thawed frozen). I plan to assemble at their house and bake. Next time I make this, I might try to make it souffle-style by beating my egg-whites separately and folding them into the ingredients just before baking. I haven't tried this yet - so when I do, I will let you know - but if you have, please speak up. I'd love to hear how folding in egg-whites would change the result.