“Knee high by the Fourth of July” was a saying inspired by the musical “Oklahoma” to indicate if a corn crop would be bountiful. The lyric in Oklahoma is actually, “as high as an elephant’s eye.” Be that as it may, corn is starting to flood supermarkets.
Oklahoma premiered in 1943. My grandmother was roughly 25 at the time and this baked corn custard recipe comes from her (although I’ve tinkered with it a bit). However, I have no idea if she was making it in her 20’s, more likely her 40’s or 50’s based on her handwriting on the recipe. Although, she did grow up on a farm, albeit in Wisconsin, not Oklahoma.
For the decade plus that I lived in Washington, DC, to escape the summer heat, I would occasionally go north to the beaches in Rehoboth, DE. To get there and back, I’d have to pass miles of corn fields. I’d often check their height and wonder if the farmers were expecting a good crop. And, I’d often think, if the corn is only knee high, why can I already find It in supermarkets?! No matter, all this adds up to a great tasting, easy to make summer savory custard!
Savory Baked Corn Custard
- 2 cups corn kernels (preferably fresh, which will be about 2 cobs, depending on their size)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon each of all purpose flour, sugar, and melted unsalted butter (plus enough to butter baking dish)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt (not table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (if you use cheese, reduce the salt to only 1 teaspoon)
- Boiling water
- Pre-heat oven to 325 F (160C)
- If using fresh corn, stand the cob upright and shave off the kernels with a chef or butcher’s knife
- Combine and mix well all ingredients
- Pour mixture into a well buttered 8 X 8-inch (20 X 20 cm), oven safe casserole dish
- Place the casserole dish into a large roasting pan or similar. Right before placing the pan into the oven, pour boiling water into the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of casserole dish (You are creating water bath, which helps the custard bake evenly.)
- Bake for 90 minutes uncovered, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature