An upscaled version of a familiar classic, perfect for your holiday table.
Once Halloween passes and we hit that first week in November, my mind shifts gears from fall wind-down to fall ramp-up as I contemplate the holiday season ahead. Thus starts a series of delicious holiday-themed recipes to share with you all.
These last two months of the year are a busy time for most—and this is definitely true for me and my business. I must juggle my own family’s needs with the needs of my clients in the consideration of all things yummy and delightful. Even though it can sometimes feel hectic and slightly stressful, I still love it!
While it’s reasonable to assume that I like cooking—it is my chosen profession, after all—there’s far more to it than simply enjoying being in the kitchen.
What I really love is feeding people.
Especially feeding people I love.
To me, cooking is about more than making delicious, beautiful food. It’s about nourishment and nurturing affection, an ultimate display of appreciation for those I care about. The holidays are a perfect time to exhibit my gratitude for the significant people and bounty of fresh food in my life.
This is the true meaning of Thanks-Giving in my eyes.
I came up with this recipe back at the tail end of summer, when fresh corn on the cob was still plentiful. It was spectacular served beside a perfectly grilled steak and a simple salad of baby greens tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. But the flavors also evoked the upcoming season to me, and I saw it adorning an autumnal feast in celebration of the abundance of delicious fall produce.
Generally, I like to highlight the fresh produce of the season at my Thanksgiving table—root veggies and hard-shelled squash; pome fruits (apples, pears); and brassicas (dark leafy greens, Brussel’s sprouts)…but I’ll make an exception for corn.
Technically, it’s not even seasonal anymore. Corn is pretty universally enjoyed, so I’ll often include it on Thanksgiving, if only to appease those pickier, non-vegetable-loving folks.
Thankfully, corn freezes exceptionally well, and frozen tastes almost as good as fresh (not quite, but close). And anyway, at this time of year it’s pretty much a given that frozen will taste a whole lot better than fresh. The kernels are harvested at their peak sweetness for freezing, and the longer it sits after the ears are harvested, the more the sugars transition into starches. So even if you do find fresh, I recommend frozen here.
This recipe is indulgent, but not so rich that it will overwhelm everything else at your table. Plus you can make it in advance and finish right before dinner—ideal for any large feast. Most creamed corn recipes are pretty sweet from added sugars, and some are even cloyingly so, almost like a desert. I admit, sugar makes everything tastily addictive, but it doesn’t belong in my side dish, in my opinion. So in the tradition of elevating certain foods to new levels—swapping ingredients for both health and taste—I decided to highlight the central ideas of creamed corn: cream and corn. I give it the grown-up treatment with caramelized onions, crisp bacon, and aromatic sage. The result is both sweet and savory, with smoky undernotes and an herbaceous fragrance and depth that will splendidly complement the rest of your table.
Creamed Corn with Bacon and Sage
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
3 strips thick-cut bacon
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 lb. corn kernels
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons milk (approximately)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 sprig fresh sage, leaves removed from stem and finely chopped
- Chop bacon and cook over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan.
- As bacon cooks, dice onion. Cook in rendered bacon fat, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic to pan and sauté 1–2 minutes. Add thyme and corn, cooking until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add cream and sour cream to corn mixture. Bring to a simmer until cream starts to coat the kernels. (If not serving immediately, see notes below on preparing the dish in advance.)
- If serving immediately: add cheese and stir to combine. Thin corn out with a little milk if the cheese starts to thicken it too much. Stir in chopped sage. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scatter drained bacon over dish to serve.
Notes on preparing in advance: If desired, you may prepare this dish in advance through step three. Store corn mixture and bacon separately in fridge. For best results, don’t chop sage until serving. Crisp bacon on stovetop until hot. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat corn mixture in the same pan. Follow directions in step #4 to complete dish.
Image from Briana Goodall.