M: It feels a smidge soon to me to start working on the Thanksgiving menu, but seeing as I recently saw Christmas decorations advertised (something I’m going to refrain from ranting about here), I think I’m safe.
Every family has their traditions at the Thanksgiving table. Fresh cranberry or jelled? Marshmallows on the sweet potatoes? Oyster or cornbread dressing? Pumpkin pie or Sweet potato? Even the turkey preparation is up for debate. And that’s just the staples. Mashed potatoes? Green bean casserole? Does mom break out the jello mold and fill it with shredded carrot? Every family is different. Over the years, as the day approaches I ask around to see what other people consider their “must haves” and try to include something on our table that hasn’t been part of our tradition. Some suggestions are predictable, like macaroni and cheese. Some less so. Celery root salad comes to mind. Most come and go for us. Peas Cantonese has stuck it out since it was suggested back in 2007, although it directly challenges one of my favorite traditions, peas and pearl onions. I think that over the years, only one latecomer has managed to hold its ground for the long haul. And that is corn pudding. I recognize that it is a common tradition for many, but it wasn’t one of ours. Of course, it was a terrible oversight. Always a crowd pleaser and it holds up very well on the leftover circuit in subsequent days. I have used a very satisfying recipe of my own design for the last few years, but I think this year my recipe will be adjusted, if not thrown over completely, for this one.
Here is what makes this recipe so good. Firstly, the inclusion of peppers, both bell and jalapeno, brings some brightness and character to this dyed-in-the wool comfort food without disrupting what makes it so good in the first place. That little bit of heat from the jalapeno goes miles. Second, plenty of eggs here taking it well into souffle territory. Comes out of the oven light and puffy and then settles into something somehow both fluffy and dense with just enough cheese to goo it up quite nicely. Great stuff, holiday or not.
Oh, one more thing. I vote no on marshmallows for the sweet potatoes. Just sayin’.
Originally: Creamy Corn Pudding