Fresh-shucked and cut off the cob, this corn casserole is a masterwork of balance in taste and texture. A hint of Cajun spice plays against the sweetness, and the creamy cheese oozes texturally with the crunchy contrast of aromatic onion, bell pepper, and celery. But the real genius of this dish is the lighter-than-air lift that eggs give it; it’s an elegant soufflé-like richness that beckons you back to shuffle up for more.
Every Thanksgiving dinner, I love to watch the “side dish shuffle” as family and friends sashay down the buffet line loading up their plate with small scoops of this and tiny portions of that along with a slice or two of turkey. This line-up is what my father always called “the first pass”—a ritual that played out year after year in the Graham family.
The strategy to this little dance is to load up everything in small portions for a tasting plate of sorts. And after a sample of the goods, it’s time to get serious. The second pass is when the big guns come out, and folks make a beeline for their favorites and load up. This Cheesy Corn Casserole is one of those dishes.
For maximum flavor, it is essential to buy fresh corn and shuck it yourself. Cutting close to the cob releases a silky, milky sweetness that elevates this dish. I’ve made it easy with canned evaporated milk, and the convenience of store-bought grated Cheddar means you don’t even have to go looking for the box grater. It’s a simple recipe that delivers maximum impact. And really, isn’t that what cooking smart is all about?
Show up with this covered dish at your Thanksgiving table, and sit back and watch family and friends shuffle back for more. I promise you will be sending out recipes for days after. It is just that good.
- 12 ears fresh yellow corn, husks and silk removed
- 1 stick butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup yellow onion
- ½ cup finely diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- With a sharp knife, cut the kernels of corn off the cob, scraping as close to the cob as possible to get as much of the corn “milk” as you can.
- In a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the butter begins sizzling, add the flour and stir to make a light blond roux. Add the onion, bell peppers, celery, and parsley, and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the evaporated milk and stir to thicken the mixture to a sauce-like consistency.
- In a mixing bowl, add the beaten eggs and slowly begin whisking in the hot vegetable mixture. Once the egg is tempered, return it all back to the skillet. Add the corn along with the cheese. Season with Cajun seasoning, white pepper, sugar, salt and black pepper.
- Pour the corn mixture into a baking dish coated with non-stick spray and place in the oven. Bake until the top just begins to brown around the edges, about 1 hour.
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