This Mexican-style spoonbread pudding (budin is Spanish for “pudding”) can be served alongside any main dish, but it is hearty enough and rich enough in protein to serve as a vegetarian main course in itself. Thick, Mexican-style crème fraîche (crema, available in Mexican groceries) or sour cream or even whipped cream seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper are the most common traditional accompaniments; however, I think it’s knock-you-out good with a pleasantly warm green chile sauce, either homemade or commercial. (My favorite is a brand called 505 Southwestern Medium Hot Green Chile Sauce: www.505chile.com or 1-888-505-CHILE.)
Yield: Serves 4 to 5 as an entrée, 6 as an accompaniment
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 pounds frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ cup milk
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup (2 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray an 8-by-11-inch baking pan (preferably glass) with oil, and set aside.
2. Place the corn in a food processor with the milk. Pulse-chop to make a slightly texture-y purée. Set aside.
3. Setting aside the egg whites, whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until thickened. Beat in the sugar, then the salt, cornmeal, melted butter, and cheese. Stir well. Add the pulsed corn kernels. Sprinkle the baking powder over the mixture, and stir it in with a few quick strokes.
4. Beat the 3 reserved egg whites in a large bowl with the cream of tartar, if using, until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, but not dry. Gently fold them into the corn mixture, and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Immediately put it into the oven.
5. Let the budin bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F and continue baking until the top is deeply browned but still soft, 40 to 45 minutes more. Scoop the budin out of the pan to serve it.