Holiday Food Traditions

Thanksgiving dinner is one of my FAVORITE meals to cook. The more people the merrier in my opinion. Every family has traditional dishes that they grew up with or discovered later in life when dinning with a new family or group of friends. Everyone I talk to has very strong opinions on whether you should stuff the Turkey or cook the stuffing outside the Turkey and baste it with the turkey drippings. There are all kinds of cooking and food science reasons to stay away from stuffing the bird and roasting it but tradition is strong and ingrained in most of us. I say, do what you want to do, just know the risks and plan accordingly.

One of the dishes that I cannot live without at Holiday time is Scalloped Corn. My mother has prepared this corn dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas for as long as I can remember. It’s a recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook lovingly modified over the years by both my mother and myself. I have introduced it to many people as either a guest at their home or to mine for the holidays – usually to rave reviews.

It is basically corn in a flavored béchamel sauce (white sauce) with some egg thrown in for good measure. This heavenly mixture is poured into the baking dish of your choice and covered with buttered cracker crumbs then “baked at 350 ‘til brown and bubbly” (one of my favorite lines from the movie Steel Magnolias). The result is a rich, creamy, luscious flavor sensation that is a great side dish for any holiday meal. It’s even better the next day when you make your huge plate of leftover bliss! I usually triple the recipe and bake it in a 9 X 13 dish. My mom always believed the more cracker crumb topping the better so she would find the largest shallow baking dish she had to maximize the topping space. However you do it, make a lot! You want to have this for leftover time!


Scalloped Corn
Based on recipe from The Betty Crocker Cookbook

4 ears fresh corn *
½ small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped (I usually use red pepper)
2 tablespoons unsalted butler
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of pepper
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Boil or roast the fresh corn on the cob. Cut enough kernels from cob to measure 2 cups.

In a large fry pan with high sides, sauté onion and red bell pepper in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter until onion is tender; remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, paprika, mustard and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk gradually. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in corn and egg. Pour into ungreased I-quart casserole.

Mix crumbs and 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle over corn. Bake uncovered in 350° oven until bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes.

*1 package (10 ounces) frozen whole kernel corn, cooked and drained, or 1 can (16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained, can be substituted for the fresh corn.