Creamed Corn With Crispy Bread Crumb Topping

Strip House, Houston

Corn

3/4 pound pancetta or good-quality bacon, diced
1 cup diced red onion
8 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 pint whipping cream
1/3 cup quick-cook polenta
1 teaspoon chipotle purée (optional)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, render pancetta until crisp. Pour off about half of the fat and reserve for topping.

Add onion to pancetta in pan and sauté over medium heat until golden. Add corn and cook just until it starts to become tender. Add cream and bring to a simmer, stirring gently. Scatter the polenta evenly in several batches over the corn-cream mixture, stirring between each addition. Cook until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Fold in chipotle purée and Parmesan and add half the chopped parsley. Taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

Topping

reserved pancetta fat from corn recipe
1 1/2 cups panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs)
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
reserved flat-leaf parsley from corn recipe

Heat reserved fat in a nonstick sauté pan over low or medium-low heat. Add bread crumbs and toss until golden, being careful not to burn. Season with salt and pepper. Add reserved parsley and remove from heat.

To serve, bring creamed corn to a simmer and pour into an ovenproof pan (or individual serving dishes). Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly on top and heat under broiler until golden brown, watching carefully. Serves 4 to 6.

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