Why call this dish Almost Cream-Style Corn? It's made with frozen corn. For me, true cream-style corn is made with fresh sweet corn cut right off the cob, juice and all. But fresh corn on the cob isn't always in season! That's when I use frozen corn.
Bacon adds a nice flavor to cream-style corn. But I prefer bits and pieces cut from the shank portion of a bone-in hickory ham.
Perhaps, this is because it's as close as I can get to those deliciously wonderful memories of my grandma's cream-style corn. She always used the leftover scrapes of a smoked ham, a Virginia smoked ham--and of course, fresh sweet corn cut from the cob. The steps in this recipe are the same, just a few substitutions--until fresh corn is once again in season.
Ingredients for Almost Cream-Style Corn with Ham Bits:
8 ounces pre-cooked ham bits and pieces (preferably cut off the shank portion of a bone-in hickory smoked ham)
2 Tablespoons butter
24 ounces frozen corn
1 cup half and half milk
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon fresh crushed white pepper or to taste
Salt to taste
On medium high heat, melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add ham bits and pieces and brown them on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total. Set aside several pieces for garnishing.
Mix in corn and cook for about one minutes. Using a fork, smash 1/4 of the corn kernels to release some of its juices. Stir in milk and bring to a boil. Stir in corn starch. Set heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until a medium thick sauce forms. Stir occasionally to keep corn from sticking.
Add the crushed white pepper and salt (to taste) during the last few minutes of cooking.