The experts report that corn pudding is a specific thing. Before angering the purists with this hacked-up version, I figured I'd look into what the original actually is. After an earnest attempt to track down true corn pudding, I'm here to report - somewhat cheerily? - that Google is so full of riffs and adaptations, it's nearly impossible to find a source that records the original dish.
From what I can tell, true corn pudding is like a souffle, made with the pulp and juices left over after you've cut the kernels off an ear of corn. In Amanda Hesser's version, you need 14 ears of corn to get enough pulp for one 9-inch baking dish.
I had 8 ears, and I didn't have other plans for the kernels. I wanted something that could make use of them, and I really didn't want it to be fussy. I was drawn to the puffed-up, cloud-like spoonbread that Deb shared from Cook's Illustrated a while back, but it called for three too many bowls and I was in a hurry.
Fortunately, Ina came to the rescue with something called Sagaponack Corn Pudding, which she claims converted her from corn pudding skeptic to lover. I wouldn't go that far (plus, who hates corn pudding?), but it's a sturdy dish that can be mixed and/or baked well in advance, held in a hot oven without deflating, and please even the few strange specimens who haven't been counting down the days until good corn finally comes back to the markets. (Weirdos.)
The notion of bringing a fluffy corn pudding to a potluck might sound strange, but I think this is made for such an occasion. It's great hot, for certain; but at room temperature, it turns craggy like a good frittata, just the type of thing to set alongside that green bean salad and all the tomatoes.
In summary: yes, this belongs at your Fourth of July gathering. And at any summer gathering thereafter.
Have a wonderful long weekend, folks, and enjoy the holiday.
Ina Garten's Sagaponack Corn Pudding adapted from the Barefoot Contessa website
Pretty loyal to the original, but I nixed the cheese in the pudding itself, opting only to sprinkle cheese on top. I also inadvertently skipped the part where you put your baking pan in a baking pan full of water - probably a psychological block to fussing so much on an already hot day - and the pudding came out great without the water bath. You're welcome.
1 stick (1/4 lb.) unsalted butter 5 cups fresh corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears) 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion) 4 eggs (Ina uses extra large; I used 5 medium eggs, which worked well) 1 1/2 cups milk 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 cup ricotta cheese 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup (4 ounces) grated cheddar or other cheese (Comte or Gruyere would also be nice here)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter the inside of an 8- to 10-cup baking dish (a 9x13 baking pan is perfect).
Melt the butter in a very large sauté pan and sauté the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and ricotta in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and stir to combine, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the grated Cheddar.
(At this stage, the pudding can be held in the fridge for several hours or up to 2 days before baking.)
Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.