Corn has a sweet, almost creamy flavor, often thickening and flavoring stews and soups, but usually relegated to the title of mere ingredient. However, it sings all on its own in a casserole, able to dominate other flavors but not completely overpower them. The only means of finding it year round in somewhat fresh form is in the supermarket's freezer, making frozen corn the cheapest and easiest means of making the dish for any occasion.
Choose standard frozen corn if you are creating a dish with a variety of other ingredients or flavors. For casseroles where corn is the main flavor, choose a sweet variety, such as peaches and cream, for the most flavorful dish. Pour the amount of frozen corn called for in the recipe into a colander set in the sink. Allow the corn to thaw completely, about 20 to 30 minutes. If you do not have the time to allow natural defrost, run the corn, in the colander, under warm water until all the kernels are soft to the touch. Add the corn to the other ingredients as called for in the recipe.
Although the corn may be defrosted, other ingredients may require a longer time to cook. If you sautee additional vegetables like garlic and onion before you add them to the corn casserole, you can reduce your cooking time, and the casserole will require only about 20 to 25 minutes of cooking. If you add fresh, uncooked vegetables to the corn mixture before you place them in the casserole dish, factor in their cooking time along with that of the corn, which will take between 45 to 55 minutes.
The average time for baking corn casseroles varies but the temperature is fairly consistent for several versions of this. Baking this at 350 degrees Fahrenheit allows for any uncooked ingredients to soften without hardening the casserole edges or the casserole becoming grainy as it cooks. A good measure of whether the dish is done at this heat is to examine whether it is evenly browned over the top. Don’t bake this at a higher temperature, as the mixture is so thick that it is questionable that you could bake it evenly without browning or hardening the edges.
To add some crunch to the top, sprinkle on breadcrumbs or crushed corn crackers or flakes before inserting into the oven. For a southwestern take, add black beans and salsa to the corn mixture before inserting it into the oven. Cheese is a common component in corn casseroles -- mix it into the corn itself for a creamy texture or sprinkle on top to create a browned crust. For a vegan take, blend silken tofu and use in place of any cheese or milk called for.
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