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Pudding corn is an American dish that has its roots in an English porridge dish. The recipe has strong Southern or Appalachian roots, but it has gained popularity in other regions of the world. Often it has other names, such as corn pudding, puddin' corn, and hoppy glop. Typically, each family or cook has a favorite recipe, which may be a simple one with a few ingredients or a more involved recipe with many ingredients.
Originally, pudding corn was a seasonal favorite, available only when corn was in season. When people began to can corn at home, the dish became popular at holiday meals, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Often modern cooks use canned or frozen corn and can make the dish at any time of the year. The addition of canned or frozen corn makes the recipe easier to execute.
When using fresh corn, a cook may need to adjust the recipe to compensate for the water content in the corn. If the corn is too watery, a cook can add a thickener, such as flour or cornstarch. Some varieties of corn have higher water content, and corn picked earlier in the season has more moisture. A drier corn may require the cook to add more cream or milk. Sometimes a cook needs to add up to a cup of milk or other liquid to compensate for drier corn kernels. A person should always scrape the cob after cutting off the kernels to get as much of the corn juice and kernel hearts as possible.
The simplest recipes call for fresh corn, sugar, and cream or half-and-half. Salt and pepper and butter are also called for. Many recipes include eggs, which often gives the pudding corn a firmer custard texture. Some cooks separate the white from the yolks and fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Most people simply beat the whole eggs before adding them to the batter.
The main ingredient is the corn. The original recipes called for fresh corn, and many cooks prefer to use fresh corn. Other cooks use canned corn. Many recipes call for half whole kernel canned corn or frozen whole kernel corn and half canned cream-style canned corn.
Another recipe staple is the liquid. Generally, it is a dairy product. This may be heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk. Some recipes call for sour cream, which usually results in a more savory than sweet dish.
Many people use sweeteners in the pudding corn. This may be sugar or honey. When working with fresh corn, some cooks reduce the amount of sweetener if they are using a sweeter variety of corn.
Frequently, cooks add spices and flavorings that the original recipes did not include. Some of the most notable are cayenne pepper, chopped poblano pepper, and chopped garlic. Other spices include cinnamon and nutmeg as well as savory seasonings, such as thyme.
Other additions that were not used in the original pudding corn recipes include cheeses, meats, and vegetables. Some cooks add bacon, ham, and other meats to the batter. Another popular addition is diced onions, including green onions and leeks. Some people add cheeses, such as cheddar.
Originally, pudding corn was baked in an oven or made over an open fire. Modern techniques include using a microwave or a slow cooker. Some recipes instruct a cook on how to make it using a campfire and a Dutch oven pot. Another popular technique is to bake it like custard using a water bath. A few recipes call for stove-top cooking with a heavy skillet, such as a cast iron skillet.