My recipe for Cheesy Chicken and Corn Pudding was inspired by Trader Joe's Corn Pudding, which I tried for the first time a few weeks ago. It was amazingly good, and in my opinion was even better when I stirred in some leftover cooked chicken. I found a recipe for Classic Baked Corn Pudding, made some changes to duplicate the Trader Joe's version, and was pleased with the results. This dish is the perfect comfort food, rivaling even my favorite macaroni and cheese in that category. I think you are in for a treat if you try this one!
Cheesy Chicken and Corn Pudding
1/4 C. butter
1 shallot, minced
1/4 C. flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 C. milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 C. shredded cheese (I used an Italian cheese blend)
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 T. fresh thyme leaves (optional)
2-3 C. chopped cooked chicken
1/3 C. panko bread crumbs
1 T. butter, melted
In a large skillet, melt the 1/4 C. butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Sprinkle in the flour and seasonings (I used 1/2 tsp. salt) and stir until well blended. Slowly whisk in the milk, breaking up any lumps. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture into the beaten eggs to temper them, and then add the eggs to the skillet, stirring until smooth. Mix in the corn, thyme, and chicken. Spoon the mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish (or a 9-inch square pan).
In a small bowl, combine the panko and the 1 T. melted butter. Sprinkle over the corn mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, or until the mixture is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
Notes: This recipe can be customized in so many ways! Sauté some minced red bell pepper, or any other vegetable you like, with the shallot (or use onion if you want). Replace some of the milk with light or heavy cream. Use any good melting cheese you prefer (cheddar is always a good choice). Minced fresh herbs such as parsley and/or basil can be added with or substituted for the thyme (or use dried herbs). Nutmeg is a good addition to any creamy dish. Substitute turkey, ham, or sausage for the chicken, or leave out the meat entirely. Use crushed crackers or croutons for the crunchy topping. You are only limited by your imagination here!