Bacon and corn may not be as revered a summer pairing as fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, but it has similar charms — at once savory and juicy, salty and sweet.
It’s a combination I’ve used in countless chowders, pastas and quickly made salads. But for this tart, I’ve gotten slightly more elaborate, turning it into a quiche-like pie that’s cheesy and brawny without being too heavy, thanks to all that fresh corn.
The recipe starts with an all-butter crust with a little cornmeal mixed in to echo the flavor of the filling. The cornmeal gives the crust extra crunch and structure, helping it stand up to its soft, velvety insides without collapsing.
You can make the dough in your food processor if you’re in a hurry or you’re worried about melting the butter with your warm fingers in your already warm kitchen. Just take care to not overprocess the butter chunks, which can happen in a single pulse.
But I like to make the dough by hand, squeezing the butter into flakes as I work them into the flour. If the butter starts to melt before the dough is done, I’ll throw the bowl into the refrigerator for a few minutes, then resume where I left off. Starting with a cold bowl, cold flour and very cold butter helps keep it all at least somewhat cool.
For the filling, I puree some of the corn to make things dense and plush while leaving the rest of the kernels whole. This way, you don’t lose the pleasure of corn kernels bursting on your tongue as you bite down.
Loaded with corn, bacon and lots of cheddar, the custard becomes so rich that it all but begs for brightness. This is easily supplied by some pickled jalapenos from a jar, along with homemade quick-pickled onions.
These onions, a cinch to make, are a tangy staple in my house. Slice up a red onion, mix with pinches of sugar and salt and a generous squeeze of lime, and let sit for 10 minutes. Use them on anything that needs a lift.
If you really can’t bear to turn on your oven in summer, save this recipe for winter, with frozen corn. Bacon and corn is a pairing worth celebrating all year long.
CORN, BACON AND CHEDDAR PIE WITH PICKLED JALAPENOS
By Melissa Clark
- >> Crust:
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1/4 cup (40 grams) cornmeal
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
- >> Filling:
- 1 small red onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- Pinch sugar
- 4 ounces bacon (4 slices), diced
- 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 2 small ears if fresh)
- 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno, plus slices for topping
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup coarsely shredded sharp cheddar (3 ounces), divided
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
>> To prepare crust: In food processor or large bowl, pulse or mix flour, cornmeal and salt until combined. Add butter, and either pulse or use fingers to smoosh it in, until butter is size of lima beans. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix just until dough comes together. Large flecks of butter should be left in dough. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Chill 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick dough in bottom of pan with a fork. Line with foil or parchment and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Return to oven and bake until pale golden and dry, 5 to 7 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
>> To prepare filling: Cut onion in half crosswise, then cut out two very thin, round slices. Separate slices into rings and put in a bowl with lime juice and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining onion; set aside.
Scatter bacon in a cold 12-inch skillet. Turn heat to medium; cook until bacon is golden and fat has rendered, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave fat in skillet.
Stir chopped onion into pan with bacon fat and place over medium heat. Saute until golden-edged and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Stir in corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped jalapeno. Cook until corn is tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and scoop 1/2 cup corn mixture into blender. Add cream, sour cream and eggs. Blend to make thick puree. Combine puree with whole corn kernels. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar, parsley and cooked bacon. Scrape into baked pie shell.
Remove onion slices from lime juice and place atop pie with jalapeno slices. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar.
Bake until puffed, golden and just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutritional information unavailable.