Fatback Fried Corn
Most Americans call this creamed corn. In the South, it’s called fried corn, which is a better term because there’s barely any cream in it. The creaminess comes from the corn itself, not the cream. I ate this dish every summer. My granny cut fresh corn from the cob with a knife. I like to grate the corn on a box grater—just like cheddar cheese—to make sure I get all the creamy corn milk from the cob. That grating method also breaks the corn into smaller pieces and releases some of its sugar and starch, which helps to sweeten and thicken the dish. Fatback is critical for flavor. It provides a savory juxtaposition to the sweetness. You could use bacon grease instead of fatback but not butter. You need some kind of pork fat for savoriness here. And the tiny amount of cream? That’s only emulsifying the corn milk and corn starches so the whole mix holds together.
5 ears corn
3 ounces fatback, cut into strips
1/4 cup finely minced onion
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Remove the husks and silks from the corn and discard. Grate the corn on the largest holes of a box grater. You’ll end up with about 2 cups corn.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the fatback, and cook to render the fat. Using tongs, transfer the fried fatback to a plate and set aside. Pour the fat from the skillet into a small metal bowl. Put 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat back into the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and corn and cook for 30 seconds, tossing so they won’t stick. Add the cream, salt, and pepper and cook, using the washing machine method, until the corn releases its starch and thickens the mixture. When the corn basically binds into a blob, remove from the heat and stir until the bubbles subside. Stir in the lemon juice and serve immediately. For a guilty pleasure, mince the fried fatback and use as a garnish.