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Smoky Chipotle Corn Pudding

Smoky Chipotle Corn Pudding
T. Susan Chang for NPR

This is a slightly drier, cornier corn pudding with a deep, earthen flavor. I like it best with dried, toasted and rehydrated chipotles. But it would still be mighty fine if you used chipotles en adobo from a can.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 or 6 ears of fresh corn, husked (depending on size)

6 cloves garlic, with skins

2 dried chipotle chilies

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup whole or 2 percent milk

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the butter in a baking dish (an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish or iron skillet works well) and slide into the oven so the butter melts while the oven is preheating.

With a sharp knife, cut the kernels off all the ears of corn and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly until you have a very rough puree (you want to still see partial kernels). Set aside.

Heat a small, heavy pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add garlic cloves and dried chilies. Press the chilies against the hot surface with a small spatula, turning, until they start to release their aroma and a bit of their oils (the surface will start to shine a little). Do not allow them to blacken.

Place the toasted chilies in a heatproof bowl and pour very hot or boiling water over them to cover, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Continue toasting the garlic cloves until the skins have begun to blacken and the clove within starts to soften. Remove to a cutting board.

In the same pan, toast the cumin seeds for a few minutes, until they release their aroma. Add the oregano and toast for 30 seconds or so. Grind the cumin and oregano in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

When the soaked chilies have softened, drain, stem and seed them. Peel the garlic. Chop the chilies and garlic finely together; it's OK if they turn into something of a paste.

Combine the corn kernels, honey, milk, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the prepared chilies, garlic, cumin and oregano. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the mixture.

When the oven has preheated and the butter in the baking dish has melted, carefully tilt the melted butter from the baking dish into the corn mixture and combine with a few swift strokes. Then tilt the buttered corn mixture back into the baking dish.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a golden crust has formed and the interior has set.

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