Cheesy Corn Casserole Perfect for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is without fail my favorite holiday—the parade on TV, friends and family helping out with the cooking, and bottles of wine opened a little too early in the day. Truth be told, I’ve been adopted into the Turkey Day fun. I moved from Australia to New York back in 2000.
Over the years I’ve squeezed tons of friends and family into my small NYC apartments and tried to master countless recipes for birds, sides, and pies. I once cooked a 24-lb. turkey that ended up being the only thing that fit in my oven (thankfully, my upstairs neighbors let me cook the sides in theirs). I’ve made several versions of the classic green bean casserole—mine now has haricots verts, wild mushrooms, and a Parmesan béchamel—and riffs on my grandma’s stuffing. But one side dish has become the one that friends ask me to make year after year.
It’s a corn casserole that’s an easy, unadulterated combo of creamy, salty, and cheesy. Is it fancy? Nope. Is it absolutely delicious? Something you’ll want to reheat and eat in your PJ’s while binge watching Netflix and nursing a post-Thanksgiving hangover? Hell yes.
I start by sautéing one chopped jalapeño (take out the seeds if you don’t want the spice), and two cloves of chopped garlic in a saucepan or small pot (anything with high sides that fits two cans of corn works) until they’re fragrant and just starting to soften. I then add two cans of whole kernel corn (not creamed corn), an entire block of cream cheese, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a large handful of grated cheddar and Parm, and stir through until it’s melty and delicious. Season with salt and cracked black pepper. At this point, the kitchen smells so good, with aromas of sweet corn, spicy peppers, and melted cheese. I can’t help but taste test, and if I determine it needs more cheese, YOLO. Now’s the time when I pour it into a baking dish, sprinkle with a half cup of breadcrumbs, about a half a cup of Parm and a handful of chopped herbs (usually a mix of fresh thyme and sage or whatever I have on hand after cooking the turkey).
The best part is that you can totally prep this the day before—just skip the breadcrumb topping until you’re ready for the oven. When it’s almost show time, bake at 375° degrees until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 15 minutes. The “creamy, cheesy, corn thing,” as my friends call it, is perfect with all the stars of the Thanksgiving show. And once it hits the table, and that first gooey spoonful hits their plates, everyone’s suddenly very thankful for the L train and that “trek to Brooklyn.”