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Is This the Pie of the Summer?

The New York Times logoThe New York Times 12/08/2019 Melissa Clark
a slice of pizza on a plate: Savory and juicy, corn and bacon are an underrated summer pair. © Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews Savory and juicy, corn and bacon are an underrated summer pair.

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 quiche-like 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.

a plate of food on a table: If your kitchen’s temperature is a concern, this dough can be put together in the food processor. © Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews If your kitchen’s temperature is a concern, this dough can be put together in the food processor.

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.

a plate of food on a table: The corn and bacon are sautéed, then puréed, before the tart is assembled. © Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews The corn and bacon are sautéed, then puréed, before the tart is assembled.

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 jalapeños from a jar, along with homemade quick-pickled onions.

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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.

And if you really can’t bear the notion of turning on your oven in summer, save this recipe to make in winter, with frozen corn. Bacon and corn is a pairing worth celebrating all year long.

Recipe: Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Pie With Pickled Jalapeños

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