Lewis Barbecue’s Hatch Green Corn Pudding Makes Perfect Thanksgiving Fare
Everyone has favorite side dish traditions at Thanksgiving. In my house, it’s cornbread sausage stuffing, smashed rutabagas with parsley and butter, mashed potatoes, and shaved, butter braised Brussels sprouts. They’ll appear again this year, but I think it’s always a good plan to give the annual side traditions a little kick in the pan and try something new. Lewis Barbecue‘s John Lewis’s Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding is as natural as barbecue is to his native Texas. This pudding is a top-selling side as his popular, big-as-Texas restaurant located on the upper peninsula in Charleston, SC, is utterly delicious and easy to prepare. It would shine as a side star with beef, ham, or turkey. It is featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018). Here’s an excerpt from the book and the recipe:
…”They come in droves for his prime brisket (Lewis calls it the highest quality and so well marbled it practically bastes itself), beef short ribs, beef back ribs, and more, all cut to order and served on butcher paper. Lewis serves sauce on the side if desired. “Typically the Texas barbecue sauce is a red, ketchup-based sauce with a lot of black pepper and some chiles,”says Lewis.
Sauce or no, it’s not barbecue without the sides. Because Lewis wasn’t willing to share his smoking, rub, or sauce recipes, we decided to use this sweet, creamy, crusty on the bottom corn pudding (in this book). Lewis grew up in El Paso near his great grandparent’s chile farm in Hatch, New Mexico, where the chile in the pudding is grown. “It’s similar to an Anaheim, but it’s a bit spicier with a grassy flavor. It picks up the flavor of the terroir in Hatch,” says Lewis. If you can’t find one, substitute Anaheim peppers, or used canned Hatch peppers already roasted and peeled. Lewis prefers a top quality, high-end cast iron pan, because the iron is denser and less porous so stuff doesn’t stick to it too much. Get the cast iron hot in the oven first, before putting in the pudding mixture. It will ensure a super crispy bottom, “almost like a Detroit style pizza,” says Lewis.
Hatch Green Chile Corn Pudding
(Serves 4 – 6)
2-3 Hatch green chiles
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from one ear of fresh corn)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
Roast the Hatch green chiles over a hot, open flame until the skins blacken and separate (about 4-5 minutes on each side). Place the roasted chiles in a plastic bag and allow them to steam (in their own heat) for 1 hour. Peel the skins and remove the seeds, discarding both the seeds and the charred skins. In a food processor, roughly chop the chiles. This should yield about 1/4 cup roasted chiles. Defrost the frozen corn kernels and chop in a food processor until pureed.
Combine the flour, yellow cornmeal, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, and granulated garlic in a mixing bowl and blend together until homogenous. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the heavy cream. Add the frozen corn puree, chopped and roasted Hatch green chiles, cubed mild cheddar cheese, and fresh corn kernels. Pour the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients. Whisk together until homogenous.
Preheat the oven to 375F with a medium cast iron pan. When hot, take the heated cast iron pan out of the oven and add the butter. Allow butter to heat until foaming and milk solids are lightly toasted. Be sure to allow the butter to fully coat the bottom. Pour the corn pudding batter into the hot cast iron pan with foaming butter. Sprinkle the shredded mild cheddar cheese on the batter and return to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes at 375F. The cheese should be nicely browned and the pudding should be set, but not firm in the center. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve warm.
(Note: prep the base puree for this recipe ahead and finish/bake while the turkey is resting/sliced. It can wait up to 30 minutes before slicing).
Wishing everyone a beautiful, truly delicious, safe, and peaceful Thanksgiving! This is one of 80 delicious recipes in this beautiful cookbook/coffee table/travel book, which makes the perfect holiday gift for the cook and Charleston-lover in your life. It’s available at all major bookstores, many Indie bookstores, and Amazon.
My most recent post at The Permanent Tourist-Charleston features two of spring’s most beloved ingredients – fresh potatoes and onions. Here’s a link to the post and the recipe.
Feel free to visit and subscribe to charleston.thepermanenttourist.com
In the meantime, Happy Father’s Day!
In between holidays, I’ve been having fun in my kitchen experimenting with French soups for my upcoming book on the same subject. One of the things that makes soup French (aside from being delicious) is the attention to detail in the garnishes and in the presentation. This fantastically layered and delicious soup gets treated to a garnish trifecta with housemade croutons and creme fraiche as well as bacon. In the book it is in the cold soup chapter, but it is just as delicious served piping hot. To go that route, instead of following the directions for cold below, just be sure to reheat the soup thoroughly before serving. I love the idea of serving this brilliantly red, white and green soup as a start to Christmas dinner. It would be the perfect prelude to a standing beef roast. Adapted from (draft version) The French Cook: Soups and Stews (Gibbs Smith, Fall 2014).
Roasting already sweet, available year-round grape tomatoes makes these royal-red gems even sweeter and a decadent flavor backdrop for fresh thyme-cloaked croutons and salty bacon. A swirl of crème fraiche (recipe and method to follow) on top delivers a crowning French flavor twist.
Roasted Grape Tomato Soup with Thyme Croutons, Bacon and Creme Fraiche
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
1 quart (4 cups) fresh red (or substitute another color such as yellow) grape tomatoes, thoroughly rinsed
1 large shallot, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar (or substitute cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
For the croutons:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/2 small, day-old baguette, cut into 1/4” cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 slices bacon, browned, drained and coarsely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup crème fraiche (recipe follows this one, below)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 450F. In a roasting pan or full-sized, edged baking sheet, combine the tomatoes, shallot, vinegar, and olive oil, tossing to coat evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with the fresh thyme stalks. Roast in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to pop and implode, tossing 15 minutes into the cooking. Leave the oven on (for the croutons) and discard the thyme branches. Spoon the roasted tomatoes, shallot and any roasting juices into a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a blender. Use the chicken stock to deglaze the hot roasting pan, stirring up any browned bits. Add the stock to the processor/blender. Blend until chunky smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn into a bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
To make the croutons, toss together the thyme, bread cubes, olive oil and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Turn out onto a small baking sheet and roast in the pre-heated 450 oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, tossing once. Set aside to cool. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls, top each with a dollop (or drizzle) of crème fraiche, 4 or 5 croutons, 1/2 teaspoon bacon, and a drizzle of fresh thyme leaves.
Make Your Own Crème Fraiche
Crème Fraiche, a thick, fermented whole cream, is the darling of Dieppe in the milk and apple rich region of Normandy, France. Though increasingly easier to find in the United States, it can still be a challenge. For a more authentic and easier crème fraiche when not in France, it’s best to make your own. In addition to its distinctive creamy flavor, crème fraiche (made with heavy cream) will not break when cooked into soups or sauces and makes a beautiful garnish for any soup, hot or cold.
Of late, I’ve become increasingly sensitive to waste. Wasted clothing, wasted time, wasted paper, and especially wasted food. Most Saturday mornings I go through my fridge to assess what I need to shop for that day. This involves cleaning out food that’s “past due” and that horrible sensation of throwing out and wasting what was once perfectly good food.
I’ve always hated doing this, my mother taking the motto of “waste not, want not” to epic proportions (she even re-uses underwear!), but in a world where so many are in need from the ravages of storms, disasters, poverty and more, it seems even more reprehensible.
So, when I saw three forgotten Winesap apples I had picked up at the farmers’ markets several weeks ago were starting to soften and fade, I refused to render them refuse and instead, decided to turn them into a tart. I also had some prepared frozen puff pastry in the freezer left over from recipe testing for a book I wrote on tarts, so there was yet another reason to make it happen.
With holidays on the horizon and Thanksgiving coming in two weeks, this tart is delicious and incredibly easy to make. In fact, it comes together in less than 30 minutes, and could be prepared while the turkey is resting and baked while everyone’s digging into their Thanksgiving feast, simultaneously perfuming the air with its heady aromas.
Normally, I’m not a fan of prepared pastry, but prepared puff pastry is so complicated to make and increasingly delicious prepared. I say, go for it! I like Pepperidge Farm best. All you have to do is remember to defrost it over-night in the refrigerator or set aside 40 minutes for it to thaw at room temp. Tart/sweet, nutty, and rife with the aromas of cinnamon and vanilla, a warm slice of this tart practically begs for a generous scoop of best-quality vanilla ice cream. You can prep and assemble it a few hours ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator before backing. Bon appetit!
Easy Peasy Apple Walnut Tart
(Makes 6 servings)
3 apples (suggest a tart/sweet variety like Granny Smith or Winesap), peeled, cored, halved and thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Seeds scraped from two fresh vanilla pods (or 1 TBS vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Generous pinch salt
Generous pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 sheet thawed prepared puff pastry
Egg wash: 1 yolk mixed with a splash of cold water and a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pats
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchement paper. Gently unfold the thawed pastry and place on the parchment, pressing with fingertips to gap any holes in the creases or elsewhere. Combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and walnuts in a medium bowl, tossing well with your hands to coat evenly. Arrange in the center of the puff pastry, spreading the filling out to all but the last inch of pastry. This should be left “naked,” as it will puff around the filling to form the edges of the tart. Smooth out the filling with your fingers or a wooden spoon so it is even and about the same thickness all around. Scatter the butter pats on top of the filling, spacing evenly. Prepare the egg wash in a cup and brush the naked edges of the tart lightly with the wash, being careful not to let it slip under the pastry and onto the paper.
Bake in the center rack for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut and serve with a fat scoop of delicious ice cream. (Note: This tart is also delicious at room temperature or cold).
Voila! The stock and fumet chapter is put to bed, so now it’s onto bechamel in the new sauce book. Some might argue, and in fact some of my friends have, that bechamel is boring. One of the five French mother sauces, I agree that it is certainly basic. It’s a simple white roux, sometimes flavored with a bit of onion and finished with milk and/or cream and seasoning.
But to me, that’s a huge part of bechamel’s beauty. The simple flavor backdrop and creamy, slightly thick consistency sets a dynamic flavor potential stage that help it evolve into anything from a Nantua to a Soubise with the addition of herbs, stock, cheese, or really just about anything that makes sense depending on what you’re pairing it with. Consider a chive and Parmesan bechamel over soft-scrambled eggs and toast or seasoned with mushrooms and wine as a tasty pasta topper? The possibilities are literally endless!
Not just a sauce, bechamel is also the tasty glue that holds together casseroles and gratins, as it does in this recipe I tested in my kitchen yesterday.
The inspiration for the recipe came from a visit to my local fish monger. I found some gorgeous seasonal shrimp and some beautiful fresh stone crab (one pound of each). I crushed the crab with a mallet, leaving the raw flesh in place, and peeled and de-veined the shrimp. Both the crab and the shrimp shells went into a large pot with a bit of butter and a finely chopped leek and a finely chopped small onion. After it softened, I deglazed the pan with a fat splash of Chardonnay, reduced it down, added 8 cups of water, and allowed the whole thing to simmer lightly, skimming along the way (see previous post) until it reduced by half. Then, I strained the entire fumet, discarding the solids, returned it to the pan and reduced it until it was down to a cup of liquid. The result is known as a glace – in this case a crustacean glace. Two tablespoons of this were whisked into the bechamel, along with some herbs and seasonings to top the beautiful fresh shrimp and some more lump crab. The result was creamy, rich goodness that utterly defies the concept of a boring bechamel! Sacre bleu!
Crunchy Crab and Shrimp Gratin
(Makes 8 to 10 portions)
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons All Purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cold skim milk
1 cup cold Half & Half
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and shallot and sweat to soften, for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate. Cook another 2 – 3 minutes, whisking, and avoiding coloring the roux. Add the milk and Half and Half all at once, whisking to incorporate smoothly. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the bechamel up to a gentle boil. Reduce heat slightly, and continue cooking until thickened enough to coat a spoon and the flour flavor has cooked out – about 5 minutes. Season careful to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve warm for the gratin recipe, which only uses half of this recipe. The rest will store fine in the refrigerator for a couple days until you’re ready to make those eggs!
For the gratin:
1/2 recipe Basic Bechamel (above)
1 tablespoon sweet Vermouth
2 tablespoons of crustacean glace (see top of the column for instructions on preparation) OR substitute best quality fish stock or clam juice
2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Generous dash Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pound shrimp, peeled, de-veined and coarsely chopped
1 pound lump crab meat
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs tossed with 4 tablespoons softened butter
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare the basic bechamel. Divide in half reserving the remainder for future use. While still warm, whisk in the Vermouth, glace, scallions, parsley, Old Bay Seasoning, Tabasco, lemon juice. Taste carefully and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, arrange the shrimp in the bottom of a shallow, baking dish or pie pan. Top with an even layer of the crab. Pour the bechamel over the top, spreading with a spatula to distribute it evenly. Top with a layer of the bread crumbs. Bake until golden and bubbling, 20 – 25 minutes. Serve warm! All this needs is a small salad to be a meal, and also makes a great appetizer with toast points.