Arrowhead Farms from Newburyport brought their first homegrown corn to the Rockport Farmers’ Market last Saturday. Those extra June rainstorms, farmer Justin Chase told me, was just enough to send the coastal Massachusetts cornstalks skywards, and to plump the yellow kernels.
I knew right away what I would make for dinner that night. Reminding myself of the treasures I found researching my cookbook, I’ve recently been cooking from “In Cod We Trust, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts.” I will boldly say, in honest celebration of the coast of Massachusetts, that there are some wonderful recipes here that people would be proud to have in their repertoire.
This “1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding,” discovered on a hand-written card within a family file in the Nantucket Historical Society, may be antique, but it is the most wonderful thing to do with sweet, tender local corn. “Like corn-on-the-cob in a cloud,” 1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding elevates New England sweet corn from the farm yard to the throne. A farmers’ market in June or August is exactly the place to look for flavors that will compliment this ethereal dish.
Shopping at my farmers’ market in Rockport, I created a stacked dinner with the corn pudding as the centerpiece. My first layer began with swiss chard, stems removed and chopped separately, all sauteed for 15-20 minutes with olive oil and garlic. Upon the swiss chard I rested a healthy square of corn pudding, which is easily made ahead, and divine served at room temperature on a warm day. Over that I tumbled a salad of chopped fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. Meaty chunks of Sasquatch Smoked Cod came over the tomatoes, and a freshly whipped-together aioli was spooned on top as an added measure of decadence.
Feel free to adapt the stack with what you find in your farmers’ market; my basic rule is that crops arriving in the same season usually taste good together. Strawberries and rhubarb. Tomatoes and corn. Butternut squash and apples.
So, almost anything in your farmers’ market this month would love to cozy up to corn pudding, which, again, is delicious served at room temperature on a hot night. Like so many summer market recipes, this one begs aggressive adapting. My next corn pudding trial might look like this: sliced beefsteak tomatoes + corn pudding square + a Geno Mondello codcake (also in the cookbook) + crispy Seaview Farm bacon + red pepper mayonnaise. See?
But the cornerstone of this stacked recipe is that corn pudding, the simple virtues of which were already well known almost 150 years ago “away off shore.”
1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes & Smoked Cod
Swiss chard and Garlic (recipe below)
1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding (recipe below)
Tomato Salad (recipe below)
1 large piece, about 1/2 pound, smoked cod
Aioli (recipe below)
For the Swiss Chard
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound swiss chard, stems removed and diced, and leaves loosely chopped
salt and pepper
1. In a wide skillet heat olive oil to medium. Add garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add swiss chard stems, and cook for another 5 minutes or until stems begin to soften. Add leaves, stirring all together well, and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the leaves are soft and have lost their raw taste. Add more olive oil if desired, and season with salt and pepper.
1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding (recipe from the “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” halved)
6 ears of fresh corn or 3 cups kernels
1 cup loosely crushed oyster crackers (not too fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 cups whole milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart glass baking dish. With a food processor pulse the corn many times to achieve a mixture of half-ground and half-whole corn kernels. Pour into a large bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients, and mix together well. Pour into a prepared dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature.
1 pound ripe red tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, halved, and sliced into thin arcs
1 handful chopped basil
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together in a small bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups oil (I like 1 1/2 cups olive oil, and the rest either canola or walnut.)
Place all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl, and stir with a wire whisk. Add the oil slowly, whisking at the same time. Keep mixing, adding the oil a little faster as the aioli begins to bind. Remaining aioli will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To Assemble Dish
In shallow bowls, like pasta dishes or shallow soup bowls, put a layer of swiss chard, scattering the brightly colored stem pieces around the edges. Lay a square of corn pudding on top. Next divide the tomatoes among the dishes. Put about a 1/2 cup of smoked cod, separated into chunks, on top of the tomatoes. Top with aioli, and serve.