A Taster’s Mom’s Creamed Corn

Anyone who has cooked Thanksgiving dinner a few years in succession will understand my problem. So will anyone that dines at the same Thanksgiving table for several years. The problem is boredom, for lack of a better word. My Thanksgiving dinner’s main course and all the fixins didn’t vary from year to year. Sure, I served a different pasta for the primo piatto, I varied the salad course, desserts came and went, but the turkey & fixins remained pretty much unchanged. So, about 5 years ago, I decided to mix things up a bit. Beginning that year, and every year thereafter, I would switch out a dish for a new one.

A friend — and Bartolini kitchens taste tester — is from the South. I asked if he had a favorite dish that his Mom made at Thanksgiving. He loved her corn and I asked for the recipe. Well, as luck would have it, something came up and my friend couldn’t make it to my place for Thanksgiving dinner but his Mom’s corn sure did. It was such a hit that it has become a mainstay of my Thanksgiving dinners ever since. In fact, at one dinner I casually mentioned that I intended to switch the corn out for something else the following year. My guests politely suggested I leave well enough alone. Ironic isn’t it? I prepare a new dish in an effort to “mix things up a bit” and it is so well-received that now, 5 years later, it has become one of the dishes it was meant to replace. Anyway, even though the corn may have stayed, undaunted I’ve continued to introduce a new dish every year since, a couple of which will be shared in future posts.

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Creamed Corn Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shalot, diced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, halved
  • 4 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan or skillet over medium heat, sauté the shallot and bell pepper in half of the butter for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the half-and-half, sugar, corn, salt, and pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile make a roux by combining the flour with the remaining butter over medium heat. Stir to combine and continue cooking until the roux is a pale yellow.
  4. Add the roux to the corn mixture and stir constantly until it thickens. Continue cooking and stirring for an additional minute and serve.

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Variations

If I prepare this dish in August or September, the height of our corn season here in Illinois/Michigan, I’ll use only a 1/4 cup of sugar because the corn and its juices will be very sweet. For much of  the rest of the year, however, unless I’m certain the corn is really good, I’ll use frozen corn. Unfortunately, frozen corn has no liquids — “liquor,” if you will. To make up for the lack of liquor, I’ll take 1 to 2 cups of the corn and pulse it a few times in my food processor. This will help the final dish to look like the corn has been cut from the cob by hand. To make up for the sweetness lost, I’ll increase the sugar from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup. The resulting dish looks and tastes like it was made from fresh corn.

Notes

I remove the corn kernels in one of two ways, depending upon the recipe. For Zia’s Corn Relish, I’ll use an electric knife to slice the kernels off of the cob. I find that the kernels remain whole with very little liquor created, just perfect for corn relish.  For this recipe, I’ll use a large chef’s knife to remove the kernels. This method is not nearly as “kind” to the ear of corn, resulting in kernels that are somewhat chopped and a good amount of that sweet corn liquor.

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64 thoughts on “A Taster’s Mom’s Creamed Corn

  1. *Love* the thought of using an electric knife on ears of corn. It seems I usually bludgeon then with a chefs knife. The dish itself sounds rich and creamy – perfect for a festive meal!

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    • I’m with you, David, and “bludgeon” is a good word for the abuse I’ve inflicted upon poor ears of corn. Seeing someone use an electric knife this past Summer was a revelation and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s easier, quicker, and makes less of a mess.

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  2. An excellent recipe – I can see why your guests insist it stay on the menu! This will be my year to shake things up a bit – haven’t formulated my plan yet. I can just hear the howls from my daughter. Although she is not conventional in any other way, Thanksgiving is sacred to her – it must remain the same. Mama will be the rebel in this instance!

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    • I can certainly identify with you both. If Mom were still with us and we could sit at her Thanksgiving dinner, my siblings and I would pretty much insist it be the same that we had every year during our youths. Yet, as I wrote, we, as cooks, want a little variety. Ya just can’t win! It sure is fun trying, though. 🙂

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  3. When my kids were young I would always tell them we have to have corn for the Indians! And this would have been a dish they would have loved! I do like Thanksgiving to be traditional but also like to tweak it a bit with a few different dishes. I think I’m going to have to revisit my menu and try this one out! btw, so very cool tip on the electric knife!!

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    • Well, Lynda, you have to serve corn on Thanksgiving otherwise there would be no yellow dish on the table. You’ll note the diced red bell pepper? This one dish takes care of both yellow and red! This dish has been such a hit that I make a double batch just so that I have enough left over to give all of my guests some to take home with their turkey.

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      • okay, okay, I’m convinced. I’m printing off the recipe to add to my menu. Yes, I did notice the red pepper, especially in your first photo…that’s what caught my eye, the burst of color! Now I just need to add it to my countdown plans and figure out what I parts I can make ahead 🙂

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        • I hope I haven’t upset the apple cart. I can just hear it now, “Things were going swell until that John posted his creamed corn recipe … ” Lucky for me, I’m sure you’ll like this dish. Besides, just look at all of the time I’m going to save you in the Future with the electric knife trick. 🙂

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  4. I’m sure this would taste good, John. I, however, come from a family where we must eat the same dinner every year for Thanksgiving and it is part of my job to help prepare it. Since my younger brother only eats turkey, chicken and fish, we also eat the same meal on Christmas Day. Fortunately, we like it: the only things that ever change are what kind of pie we make and what green vegetable we serve. Your creamed corn will make a treat on some non-holiday.

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    • I think most family members want their traditional Thanksgiving dinner, whatever that happens to be. As the cook, I just like to try something new. The worst case scenario, like with this creamed corn, is that the new dish is highly praised and accepted. Then, as cook, you have the traditional dishes to prepare as well as the new dish. A few years like that and you won’t have room on your table for all of the side dishes. 🙂

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  5. I’m all for mixing it up on Thanksgiving! We always have the same old stuff. Some of which I’m cool with, some of it I’d like to see go for good. This year, I’ve convinced them to let me bring a new veggie dish (The green bean casserole will remain on the table, but at least we’ll have a new option now!). I’m experimenting with something, but if it doesn’t turn out, I’m going to bring this corn dish! I know it would be a hit. 🙂 I think everyone in our family likes corn and we’ve never had it at Thanksgiving.

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    • Funny, Kristy, looking over the comments, the cooks would like a change in the menu but their diners all want the traditional dinner. This corn recipe is a good one to have around and not just for a holiday. It’s been well-received whenever I’ve served it and the recipe is often requested. When you serve it, please let me know how many spoons your Sou Chefs give it. Of course, I’ll be hoping for 4 but I’ll be more than happy with a 3 spoon rating.

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  6. That sounds great! It’s been two years since I cooked at Thanksgiving – the kids all go elsewhere, so we do, too – but they’ll all be here for Christmas! I might have to do this before then…you know, just to be sure… 🙂

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    • Well, truth be told, I won’t be cooking this year either. My friends and I have decided to go out for dinner — and I am so relieved! As much as I love to cook the big dinner, it will be nice to be served and not be bothered by the clean-up before, and after, the big event. I hope you like the corn. It sure is a hit around here.

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      • I believe you! I often make corn pudding for T’giving, but this sounds like a welcome change. Thanks for the great tip re the electric knife, BTW. Since we’re meatless now (though we will serve turkey next week), it’ll give ours an occasional workout.

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  7. I am with you though John, i want to GO OUT!! Every year The Matriarch makes the same thing and the brothers get all huffy if something tastes different from how Great Aunt Sis or Gramma Emma used to make.. i am going to suggest going OUT and see what response i get!! Probably no response at all actually! Nanny just loves to cook! (I give thanks for that too) .. c

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    • I do enjoy making the dinner, no doubt about it. But, I have to admit, sitting and being served is awfully nice, too, especially when it’s strangers doing all the work. We’ve all been friends for ages and it’s nice to enjoy each other’s company without running back into the kitchen to check on, or serve, something. We can always get together some other time when there isn’t so much stress involved. In your case, if you put it to a vote and need a tie-breaker, just let me know. I’ve got your back. 🙂

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  8. I should say that I treasure our Thanksgiving meal because my Mom is eighty-one and still cooking it: when she no longer can, I’ll take over, having had many years’ apprenticeship — some of the jobs are mine already.

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    • One of my regular guests has very few friends among the vegetable crowd. Corn, just plain corn, is one. For me to attempt this was a major deal. It worked out, though, he loves it like the rest seated at the table. Whew! Wait a minute. “Brandied Cranberries?” What, no bourbon? 🙂

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  9. As a southerner and a lover of corn, I heartily approve of this dish. The corn liquor adds so much if you can get the fresh corn but since it’s not in season I’m glad to see a suggestion of how to deal with frozen corn. I’ve had a similar creamed corn with some jalapeno added to it which was quite good and gave it a little kick. Corn pudding is sometimes part of a traditional Thanksgiving, so why not creamed corn? I love it!

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    • Maybe I should include the phrase “Southern Approved” in the title? I have made this for Thanksgiving using fresh corn but it’s such a hit or miss thing. The last time I tried, it was a miss and now I just use frozen corn this time of year. Your jalapeño suggestion would go well with Jed of Sportsglutton.com, who suggested using red pepper flakes. Either way, a little kick wouldn’t hurt and is definitely worth trying.

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    • Thanks, Ruth. Thanksgiving is such a tradition-laden meal. Once people get accustomed to seeing something at the dinner, it’s hard to change things without stepping on someone’s toes. I’ve been lucky so far!

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  10. My kids are addicted to corn. I put it in salads and soups and every where I can.
    I KNOW they will love this! I will be making it very soon and I’ll let you know how much they loved it because I am sure they will

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      • I made it and it was a huge success. I honestly can’t blame your guests! I loved everything about it, the ease of preparations, the flavors, the colors. I know me and my family will enjoy this many many times in the future.
        Thank you for sharing John

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        • You’re welcome, Sawsan, and I’m thrilled that you all enjoyed the dish. I love that it is a hit among the diners because it is so tasty, yet, cooks love it because it is so easy to prepare. Thank you for taking the time to return and comment. 🙂

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  11. As you know, no Thanksgiving here, but who needs Thaksgiving to make this?! I love corn and this looks and sounds amazing. Actually I think I could just sit with my fire blazing, the dogs looking hungrily at me while I have a big bowl of this all to myself and a great big spoon like Goldilocks with her porridge!

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    • I haven’t got the fire and I’ve only got one dog to watch me eat but I have enjoyed a bowl of this, and more than once, too. It sounds like we share a love for corn and it seems like such a shame to let a bowl of this sit in the fridge. I am more than happy to help it fulfill its yummy destiny. 🙂

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  12. What a pity that your friend never made it to Thanksgiving dinner but super awesome that his mom’s recipe did – aah the things to be thankful for. 😉 We have also started with the “new” tradition of mixing things up for our Christmas dinner the last few years – prior to that it has been the same things over and over for decades!
    🙂 Mandy

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    • Isn’t it funny how the holiday meal itself can become so bound by tradition? I give you credit for trying to mix things up after decades. I hope no one minded but I totally understand why you would want to do it. Good luck this Christmas! Have a great day!

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    • Growing up, canned cream corn was a staple of my diet. Once I left home, I continued to buy it until I happened to read the ingredients — and never bought it again. Of course, that meant no creamed corn for decades! This recipe, even with the sugar, is a much healthier alternative to the canned stuff and everyone just loves it! I hope you do, too! 🙂

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  13. I admit, I’m bored by a lot of my dishes but have been scared to mix it up! You’ve inspired me to try some of my friends traditional dishes for a change… and you are my Word Press friend, so I’ll have to try this one:) Your detailed recipe and instructions will really help me to get it right the first time!

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    • I know exactly what you mean. I, too, was afraid to change something for fear of upsetting someone at the table. So, I started slowly and with corn. That went over so well that I was emboldened to do it agin each year. If you make this creamed corn, I really do hope you like it!

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  14. I’m from the south and never had creamed corn until a few years ago. My husband is from the north and it is one of his favorites. Although you add cream and butter to anything and everyone has to love it. So now I will fix him John’s creamed corn and I know he will grin from ear to ear.

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    • As much as I agree with your cream & butter statement, I’ve used heavy cream to make this dish and prefer the half-and-half. Who knew? I do hope you and your husband enjoy this, Karen. It certainly is well-liked around here.

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      • John, I use half and half in my recipes as well. For most recipes it works just as well as heavy cream. I also use 1% milk in most recipes where milk is called for as that is what my husband uses on his cereal. Sometimes you have to tweak the recipe a little but if I can get the same great taste I think I am way ahead of the game concerning health.

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        • I’m with you, Karen, although when it comes to a holiday meal, and in particular Thanksgiving, I tend not to worry so much about the fat content or calories. For normal every day meals or dinners with friends, however, I do try to keep things in check.

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    • It may not be healthy but it sure does scream, “THANKSGIVING!” A few years ago, I kept a running total of all of the sugar, butter, and heavy cream that went into the dinner. As my guests were dining on their cheesecake dessert, I announced the grand totals. Everyone stopped eating, and after an interminable second, laughter broke out. Every year since then, someone will ask for the totals. I cannot divulge them because I do not keep track of them. It’s best not to over think some things and Thanksgiving dinner is one of those things. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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  15. Yep! 25 years of the same meal! I can’t say that I haven’t tried to mix it up, but everyone gets crabby. You’ve caused me to think about it again, however, and I would love to make this dish. It can fit in nicely between all the candied this’s and that’s and then brighten up all the brown food. Oh I love my family, but foodies they are not. I read your blog to brighten my palate, even from a distance! Great job! Debra

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    • Thank you for such a great comment! Funny how the cooks want to change things a bit but our dinner guests all expect a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, whatever that traditional dinner happens to be. Even though I’m trying to mix things up a bit, it is only 1 dish. I wouldn’t dream of changing more than one at a time!

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    • I’m sorry, Linda, I didn’t receive it nor can I explain that. I just sent myself an email using a different screen name and it was sent and rec’d without a problem. Would you mind sending it again? Depending upon whether it is rec’d, I may contact tech support. Thanks.

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    • I just found a note from you in my FEEDBACK. I sent my reply to your AOL email acct, thanking you and it included instructions for setting up a contact page. Is this what you’re referring to? … John

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  16. Another beautiful recipe. I adore good creamed corn. And honestly, I’d forgotten that Mom used to make it with red bell pepper diced in it! Now I’m hit with the Double Whammy: a great creamed corn recipe *and* nostalgia. All in one big casserole. What am I gonna do witcha, John?

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    • The original recipe called for green pepper but I very much prefer the way the red pepper “pops” in the dish. I’m glad to have been the one to purchase you a ticket for your trip down Memory Lane. Although I never expected this when I started, this blog has become a nostalgic look back for my family and me. Each family recipe triggers some memory, oftentimes long since forgotten. It has become a surprisingly rewarding experience.

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