This recipe is part of a Friendsgiving series (woo!) brought to you by the Friendsgiving with French’s® program #RealFlavorsHaveCrunch
Don’t forget to check back for the next 2 posts so you can achieve maximum tastiness at your Friendsgiving and holiday feasts.
“What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Thanksgiving?” I asked James, hoping for inspiration for my annual Friendsgiving menu.
“Football,” he said. Uh, okay. Not turkey or stuffing or mashed potatoes like I expected, not family, or pilgrims or thankfulness… but football. Football.
And you know what? I could work with that.
You see, if there’s one thing that’s always irked me about Thanksgiving dishes, it’s the fact that it’s all about the same flavors and textures. There’s rosemary, sage, and thyme in every dish, assuming there’s any real seasoning at all, right? And then to boot, everything is soft. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry jelly, sweet potato casserole– I imagine that all being on the
menu at some sort of support group for people who’ve suddenly lost their teeth.
I mean, where’s the cheese.. the heat… the crunch? I’ll tell you where they aren’t: your holiday table. That’s the real reason why everyone gets so sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not the tryptophan; it’s because traditional Thanksgiving food is so flavorless that it sucks the life out of you. That’s not scientifically proven or anything, but I tend to believe it.
Anyway, I’ve made it my mission to change that for the big Friendsgiving feast. And that mission begins with this Bacon Jalapeño Popper Creamed Corn Gratin.
Inspired by one of my all-time favorite appetizers (jalapeño poppers, of course), this side dish combines a Thanksgiving staple– creamed corn– with the type of amp-it-up ingredients you’d expect at a football tailgate: crispy bacon, two types of cheese, grits, fresh chives, panko breadcrumbs, butter, and French’s® Crispy Jalapeños. This, my friends, is one Thanksgiving-worthy recipe that’s not going to bore your tastebuds into a coma of tastelessness. There is some real flavor here, and it’s waiting for you.
My favorite part of this recipe is the cheesy, crispy jalapeno topping. I’m not saying that because French’s sponsored this post (I don’t talk things up unless I really love them; I’d never do you like that), I’m saying it because, in case you missed it, it’s a cheesy, crispy jalapeno topping.
What more needs to be said? I first picked up French’s Crispy Jalapenos a few months ago because I’m a huge spicy food
addict, and thought they’d be a great way to add some heat to my quick dinners. Since then, I’ve added them to my scrambled eggs, sprinkled them over salads, used them to coat chicken breasts, and literally eaten them straight out of the container. I put them in everything, to be honest, because they are perfect for turning everyday dishes into something exciting, but the crust on this recipe is by far the best way I’ve had them– mixed in with buttery panko and slightly-burnt cheddar cheese, all on top of a creamy, cheesy, bacon-loaded corn mixture.
Which is exactly why I’ve prepared 4 of these and stuck them in the freezer for this weekend’s Friendsgiving.
By the way, did I mention the fact that you can premake this Bacon Jalapeno Popper Creamed Gratin and just reheat it the day of? It’s a holiday hosting lifesaver.
James and a few of my neighbors have already tried this recipe since I had to test and tweak it for the blog and the video, and so far it’s been a huge hit. I can’t wait to see what everyone else says about it this Saturday! I suspect it’s going to go way faster than the traditional side dishes, what do you think?
- 8 bacon slices, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 large (40 ounce) bag frozen corn kernels
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1 large bunch chives, chopped
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup French’s Crispy Jalapeños, or more, to taste
- Parsley, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large oven-safe skillet* over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until crisp. Remove from the skillet using a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl for later. Cook the chopped shallots in the rendered bacon grease until golden, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the frozen corn and cook until beginning to lightly brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Pour in the half-and-half and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add the grits, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper into the skillet and stir until thickened, about 3 minutes. Mix in 1 cup of each the cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheeses, as well as half of the chives and all of the reserved bacon. Stir until the cheese melts and the ingredients are well-combined.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the panko, melted butter, half of the remaining chives, and the crispy jalapeños. Spread evenly over the creamed corn. Bake until the top is golden, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chives and garnish with parsley. Serve warm.
* Alternatively, you can use a regular skillet and transfer the corn mixture to a greased baking dish before topping and baking.