With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you’ll need to have a few side dishes and I suggest this outstanding Southern Corn Pudding. The recipe appears on page 120 of my latest book, Southern Traditions. I learned this many years ago while having lunch at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia. This dish was truly memorable. I could not stop thinking about it and called back the next day to ask about the recipe. Much to my surprise, the owner, Billie Van Dyke, gave it to me without any hesitation. It’s nearly always on their menu. Ever since I have served this casserole any chance I could find. Amazing!
One of my favorite autumn paintings is by Kathy Anderson. You may see more of her paintings at Horton Hayes Fine Art, 12 Queen Street in Charleston. https://www.hortonhayes.com/artist/311
Named after a favorite china pattern, the Blue Willow opened the same year Hollywood released the sweetly nostalgic “Fried Green Tomatoes,” based on a novel by Alabama’s Fannie Flagg. In March 1992, Atlanta Constitution columnist Lewis Grizzard rhapsodized about its home cooking in a nationally syndicated piece that proved to be a game-changer.
Blue Willow Inn, Social Circle, Georgia. If you haven’t been there, well, bless your heart. It’s Southern hospitality at its finest!
Not only is this a Thanksgiving side dish but you will want to serve it year ’round at all your Sunday suppers. Surely when we die and go to heaven, we can expect meals up there to be served at a celestial branch of the Blue Willow Inn. (I believe it has been sold since the time when I was there and closed last March when Covid arrived.)
Their meals defined Southern eating at its best, from hot biscuits to fried green tomatoes to tables crowded with desserts. I can just taste those hot from the oven biscuits as I write this story!
By far, this Southern Corn Pudding will be the only recipe you will ever need when it’s time to make Southern Corn Pudding.
“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” Julia Child
I call it “Simple, Soulful, Southern.”
Southern Corn Casserole
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
2 scallions, trimmed and minced
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half
5 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub the butter on the bottom and side of a 3-quart souffle dish or deep casserole dish. Combine the corn, scallions, red bell pepper, cornmeal, sugar, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to mix.
Whisk the half and half and eggs together in a separate bowl. Stir in the cheese. Mix the egg mixture with the corn mixture, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared souffle dish and bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until puffy and light golden brown. The pudding should be very moist and soft in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.