My partner Tom has a large family here in central Illinois. A very large family. Sometimes it seems as if no matter where we go, we’re running into another of his aunts or cousins or distant relations. He’s related to so many people here, with so many interconnections between them, that for a while I thought he might be his own uncle or something.
As with many large families, they like to get together at holidays, birthdays, weekends – hell, any excuse for a party will do. And when they do get together, they like to eat. There’ll be lots of food, most of it homemade, and it’s usually your own damn fault if you go away hungry.
Whenever plans are being made for a family "do", you can bet a call or two goes out over the wire to Stanford, Illinois, home of Tom’s Aunt Connie. One of four sisters (the others are Dixie, Kitty, and Tom's mother Linda), Connie has become something of a local celebrity whose fame rests on her Corn Pudding. Duncan Hines once said that it is impossible to take better food off the stove than went on. Given the less-than-gourmet ingredients required, you’d expect that to be true of this recipe, but I suspect Mr. Hines never tasted anything quite as good as this pudding.
So put Loretta Lynn on the stereo, pour yourself a big glass of sweet tea, shoo the kids outta the kitchen, and let’s whip up a batch of Aunt Connie’s Corn Pudding!
- 2 boxes cornbread mix – in this part of the country, the brand we use is called "Jiffy", but any pre-packaged cornbread mix should suffice. You can also use your own recipe, but keep it plain – just corn meal, milk, a bit of flour, and eggs. Whatever mix or recipe you use should make enough to fill the cake pan described below.
- 2 cans whole-kernel corn and 2 cans cream-style corn – these are the 14 to 15 ounce (400 gm)-size cans. The whole-kernel corn should be drained of any water (thanks, Enth).
- 16 ounces (500 ml) sour cream
- butter or margarine, enough to make 2 cups (500 ml) melted.
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a regular-size sheet cake pan. I use what’s called a 13" by 9" by 2" pan, but any rectangular pan should do fine. Spray a bit of non-stick coating around the pan, or lightly grease it with vegetable oil.
Next, the butter or margarine should be melted just to bubbling. Then, allow it to cool as you mix the remaining ingredients, but don’t let it re-solidify; you’ll need to be able to pour it into the batter.
Then, mix the cornbread mix according to package or recipe directions. The batter should be thick, just to the point of being pourable. Add the corn and the cream-style corn, and stir to blend. Add the sour cream and pour in the melted butter or margarine, and stir until just mixed. Over-mixing will not reward your efforts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for at least one hour or until the edges start to brown. Test the middle of the pudding for doneness; if it’s still batter-like, bake for 10 – 15 minutes more or until completely done. Remove the pudding from the oven, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
If all goes well, you’ll wind up with a Corn Pudding that has the consistency of a good cake; nice and moist, not quite as firm as traditional cornbread, and very tasty. It goes well with any dish with which you’d normally serve cornbread. It’s equally good the next day – if you have any left over! I took this to one of our workplace food days and was besieged for the recipe, even by folks who normally only open cans.