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Corn Bodino/Roasted Garlic Paste

Bodino is versatile enough to serve at any time of the day and can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. This version is particularly delicious served with a slice of proscuitto or a tomato salsa. Sprinkling the top with a small amount of chili flakes adds a spiciness that complements the corn. We think it is charming to cook and serve this from a cast-iron pan. However, it can be made in a wide variety of cookware, such as porcelain pie pans, individual serving gratins or any skillet, providing it is not a nonstick pan. Bodino is best served directly from the oven. It can be served at room temperature as well, but will settle back in the pan as it cools.

2 ears of corn
1 1/2 cups milk

For the batter:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
1 cup steeped milk (reserved from above)
1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste (recipe follows)

For the corn:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)

Husk the ears of corn and cut off the kernels. Reserve 1 cup of corn. Cut the ears into 2-inch sections and place into a small saucepan with the milk. Place over medium heat. As soon as the milk comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs, and reserve 1 cup milk for the recipe. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack set in the middle of the oven.

For the batter: Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and milk, until thoroughly combined. Add about a third of the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to form a paste. Add the roasted garlic paste and whisk well to eliminate any lumps from the batter, then gradually incorporate the remaining egg mixture. If made ahead, the batter can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours.

For the corn: Brown the butter over medium high heat in a 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Add the corn and saute for a minute, then add the thyme, scallions and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, to cook the corn to a golden brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly, pour the batter over the corn. Place the pan into the oven and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the bodino are puffed and browned and the center is set. Turn on the broiler and brown the top if desired. Sprinkle the top with chili flakes and serve directly from the pan.

Note: If the bodino is to be served from individual gratins or pans, set the pans in the oven for about 5 minutes or until hot, then spread the cooked corn into each pan. Top with the batter and bake. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pans.

Note: Asked if the corn should be blanched before browning, Chiarello says it depends on the corn. If the corn is fresh and sweet, there's no need to. If it's a little starchy, he suggests dropping it into a gallon of boiling water to which 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon salt have been added. Boil for 1 minute, cool and then cut off kernels. (Our Western Pennsylvania corn had been picked that morning, so we skipped this step.)

Roasted Garlic Paste

This recipe produces two great pantry items: garlic paste and garlic-flavored oil. Both should be well sealed and refrigerated. The roasted garlic paste can be kept for up to a week and the oil for up to a month.

Garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
Extra virgin olive oil

Place the desired amount of garlic in the bottom of a small saucepan. Add olive oil just to cover the cloves. Place the pan over low heat and cook gently for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cloves have softened and are a golden brown. (Ours cooked much more quickly than this.) Remove the cloves from the oil and chop the garlic to a paste. Strain the oil through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter. Store both in the refrigerator.

Tra Vigne chef Michael Chiarello for the Post-Gazette

Thursday, July 20, 2000

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