Bacon and corn may not be as revered a summer pairing as fresh mozzarella and tomatoes or prosciutto and melon, but it has similar charms — at once savory and juicy, salty and sweet.
It’s a combination I’ve used in countless chowders, pastas and quickly made salads. But for this tart, I’ve gotten slightly more elaborate, turning it into a quichelike pie that’s cheesy and brawny without being too heavy, thanks to all that fresh corn.
The recipe starts with a homemade, all-butter crust with a little cornmeal mixed in to echo the flavor of the filling. The cornmeal gives the crust extra crunch and structure, helping it stand up to its soft, velvety insides without collapsing.
You can make the dough in your food processor if you’re in a hurry or you’re worried about melting the butter with your warm fingers in your already warm kitchen. Just take care to not overprocess the butter chunks, which can happen in a single pulse.
But if it’s not too hot inside, I like to make the dough by hand, squeezing the butter into flakes as I work them into the flour. If the butter starts to melt before the dough is done, I’ll throw the bowl into the refrigerator for a few minutes, then resume where I left off. Starting with a cold bowl, cold flour and very cold butter helps keep it all at least somewhat cool.
For the filling, I purée some of the corn to make things dense and plush while leaving the rest of the kernels whole. This way, you don’t lose the pleasure of corn kernels bursting on your tongue as you bite down.
Loaded with corn, bacon and lots of cheddar, the custard becomes so rich that it all but begs for brightness. This is easily supplied by some pickled jalapenos from a jar, along with homemade quick-pickled onions.
These onions, which are a cinch to make, are a tangy staple in my house. Slice up a red onion, mix the slices with pinches of sugar and salt and a generous squeeze of lime, and let them sit for 10 minutes. Then use them on anything that needs a lift.
Bacon and corn is a pairing worth celebrating all year long.
Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Pie With Pickled Jalapeños
Yield: 4 servings
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cubed
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 small red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
Pinch of granulated sugar
4 ounces bacon (4 slices), diced
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 2 small ears if fresh)
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño, plus more slices for topping
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup coarsely shredded sharp cheddar
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Prepare the crust: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour, cornmeal and salt until combined. Add butter, and either pulse or use your finger to smoosh it in until butter is the size of lima beans. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix just until dough comes together. There should still be large flecks of butter left in dough. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead.)
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick the bottom of the pie with a fork. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil or paper and pie weights or beans. Bake until pale golden and dry to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
4. While crust is chilling and baking, prepare the filling: Cut red onion in half across the equator (not root to stem), then from the center, cut out two very thin, round slices. Separate onion slices into rings and put them in a bowl with lime juice and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the tart. Coarsely chop remaining onion and set aside.
5. Scatter bacon in a cold 12-inch skillet. Turn heat to medium, and cook until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 10 to 14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Leave fat in the skillet.
6. Stir chopped onion into pan with bacon fat and place over medium heat. Saute until golden-edged and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in corn, ½ teaspoon salt and chopped pickled jalapeño. Cook until corn is tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
7. Remove from heat and scoop ½ cup corn mixture into a blender. Add cream, sour cream and eggs. Blend until you get a thick puree. Using a spatula, scrape corn puree back in pan with whole corn kernels, and stir in ½ cup Cheddar, the parsley and the cooked bacon. Scrape into baked pie shell.
8. Top filling mixture with pickled red onion slices and jalapeño slices. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheddar.
9. Bake until puffed, golden and just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.