Summer! Sweet-Corn & Bacon Pie

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The waitress at Ernie Risser’s family restaurant in Womelsdorf, PA, watches me looking dubiously at the gravy that came with the corn pie I ordered.   “I like to eat corn pie with hot milk,” she whispers, smiling conspiratorily. Whisking away the gravy boat she returns with a little pitcher of milk. Not bad…but I left plotting something better. The result? This recipe: Cut-from-the-cob sweet corn simmered in a peppered white sauce with smoked bacon, onion and little sweet red pepper and baked in an all-butter pie crust. It pairs wonderfully with fried chicken and a green salad. (Try arugula, or mache!) Some vinegary pickles would be welcome on the side, too.

 

Makes 1, 9-inch pie

Corn, Bacon & Onion filling Ingredients

  •  5 fresh ears of sweet corn (enough to make 3 1/2 cups of kernels)
  • About 1/3 lb un-cured smoked bacon, cut very fine (I use Trader Joe’s Applewood-Smoked Uncured Bacon Ends & Pieces.) Cooked, bacon bits should measure 1/2 cup
  • 1 medium onion peeled and diced to make 1/2 to 3/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, cored, seeds removed and very finely diced
  • 2 tsp salt, divided (or slightly less–to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk OR remaining evaporated milk from making the pie crust plus enough regular milk to make one cup

Double pie crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (two sticks) very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp very-cold evaporated milk OR cream
  • egg wash made by whisking 1/2 cup milk with one egg

Instructions

  1. Make pie crust: Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Cut butter in to flour mixture with two knives or fingertips until mixture resembles wet sand with some pea sized bits in it. Add evaporated milk (or cream) 1 Tbsp at a time (only use what you need to get the dough to hold together.) Mix with a fork until pastry begins to pull together. Turn pastry out onto sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Cut in half. Wrap each half of the pastry  in plastic wrap–flatten into two disks. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. While dough chills, make filling: Cut corn off of all of the cobs. To do this, I place one end of a large cutting board in a white plastic garbage bag in the bottom of the kitchen sink. I prop the other end of the cutting board on the lip of the sink (washboard style) and tuck the top of the garbage bag over the faucet to keep the bag wide open. Using a sharp knife, I slice the kernels off the cobs, onto the cutting board and down into the bag. This helps keep the corn from spraying all over the kitchen! Measure 3 1/2 cups of kernels into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Brown bacon in frying pan until fat has rendered and bacon is well cooked. Remove bacon to a separate bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving bacon fat in skillet.
  4. Saute onion in bacon fat for two minutes, stirring often. Add 1/4 cup water and cover, simmering until onion is very soft but not brown.
  5. Stir corn and red pepper into onion. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until corn is hot through and loses “raw” flavor. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper. Remove to a bowl.
  6. Melt butter in saute pan. Whisk in flour and toast for three minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of evaporated milk (or regular whole milk) until a smooth white sauce forms. Season to taste with 1/2 to 1 tsp salt plus more fresh ground pepper.
  7. Add corn mixture to white sauce. Stir in bacon. Mix well. Try not to eat all of the creamed corn while making note to self that this would make an awesome side dish, not even baked into the pie.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out one of the pie pastry disks and fit into the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish. Fill pie with corn filling. Roll out second pie pastry disk and top pie. Decoratively crimp edge. Brush top of pie with egg wash. Cut slits in top of pie to vent steam.
  9. Place pie on center oven rack and bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes until top of pie is nicely browned and filling is bubbling. Let pie cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

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