Corn Pie

Cook's Country Best Lost Suppers CoverIt’s corn time in Brentwood and I am one happy girl.

There are few things as good as a fresh ear of sweet corn, unless it is a fresh ear of sweet corn that you have not grown yourself. I have tried it and it was a less than fulfilling experience.

Who knew that corn had Diva-like properties? You would think, given the amount of corn produced in this country, that corn would be as easy to grow as your average weed. Alas, you would be wrong.

Now, it could be possible that my issues were a result of, let us say, operator error. But rather than admit defeat, I choose to be the petulant child and blame it on a particularly high maintenance grain crop.

I figured out that the time, water, and effort it takes to grow the perfect ear of corn in my garden (and one ear may be all I actually get) is not worth it when I can go to the farm stand and buy 6 ears of better quality corn, from a guy who only grows corn, and knows a heck of a lot more about growing corn than I do, all for one dollar.

So, if you find yourself with an abundance of corn, recently procured from the farmer, and are kinda tired of gnawing on a cob, try this old school possibility courtesy of Cooks Country’s Best Lost Suppers Cookbook. 

Corn Pie
Cooks Country’s Best Lost Suppers Cookbook
Serves 6 to 8

This old-fashioned pie has roots that run deep into Pennsylvania Dutch country. and while recipes vary on the particulars. in general fresh-cut corn kernels and sliced hardboiled eggs are cooked with milk and often flour under a flaky pie crust. A corn pie recipe similar to Suzanne’s can be found in the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook (2004) and is credited to the Cornwall Iron Furnace in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, an ironmaking facility that operated from 1742 to 1883 and made pig iron and domestic products. as well as cannon barrels during the Revolution and the Civil War. As in that particular recipe. Suzanne’s grandmother made her corn pie in a cast-iron skillet. “It is, for us. the very essence of summer.” says Suzanne. “and we usually serve it with fresh. sliced summer tomatoes and homemade mayonnaise. For my family, summer has not arrived (and doesn’t dare depart) until we’ve made this recipe at least once.”

Ingredients
Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening. cut Into 1/4 -Inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butler. cut Into 1/4 -Inch pieces and chilled
4-6 tablespoons Ice water

Filling
4 large eggs
12 ears corn husks and silk removed
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butler
1 onion. minced
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the Crust
Process the flour and salt together in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula, until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.

Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days. Before rolling out the dough, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

For the Filling
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Hard-boil 2 of the eggs by covering them with 1 quart water in a small saucepan and bringing to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a bowl of ice water. Transfer the eggs to the ice water and cool for 5 minutes. Peel the eggs, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice the corn kernels from the cobs. Process half of the corn (about 4 cups kernels) in a blender (or food processor) with the cream until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 eggs and blend until combined, about 5 seconds. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, stir in the remaining corn kernels, corn-cream mixture, and parsley. Smooth the surface of the filling, then arrange the sliced eggs over the top in an even layer. Using your hands, break up the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and scatter evenly over the top.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured counter to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut three oval-shaped vents, each about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide, in the center of the dough. Working quickly, roll the dough loosely over the rolling pin and unroll it evenly over the skillet. Trim the dough, leaving 1/2 inch hanging over the pan lip. Press the dough t1rmly to seal it to the lip of the pan. (For a decorative border, press the edges of the pie with the tines of a fork.)

Place the skillet on a toil -lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the tilling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes from the Test Kitchen
The flavors of the Suzanne’s recipe and the history behind It made It a keeper, though we had some trouble getting the filling to hold together like we wanted. Though It’s less visually appealing than using only whole kernels, we found that pureeing half of the corn with a couple of eggs helped make the filling more stable. We also opted In favor of using heavy cream versus milk since It created a smoother texture and richer flavor.

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