In my family, when we serve corn as a side it is nearly always corn on the cob (because why mess with success, right?), but when I saw Giada’s Creamy Sweet Corn with Pancetta I decided instantly that I had to make it. Tender sweet corn tangled with some fennel, shallot, smoky pancetta, velvety mascarpone, and fragrant fresh basil? That’s an awful lot of my very favorite things in one dish so it seemed an ideal combination… and spoiler alert, my assumptions were correct. It is ideal – full of smoky, sweet, creamy, and vibrant flavors that all fall into the perfect balance.
Now, one might expect that someone of Giada’s cooking caliber would ask you to cut fresh corn kernels off the cob, but that is not at all the case. Giada only calls for a humble bag of frozen corn here and that’s the first thing I loved about the dish. So easy! You just cook some diced pancetta in a skillet until it’s nice and crispy (and also filling your kitchen with tantalizing smoky smells), and then sauté some fennel and shallot right in the rendered pork fat. The corn only needs a couple of minutes in the pan before mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano join the party and the final flourish is a handful of fresh and fragrant basil.
Maybe you are thinking, “oh, I’m not sure about that fennel” or “can’t I just use some cream cheese instead of the mascarpone” but please, please just go ahead and make it exactly as Giada wants you to at least once. It’s just so… balanced. The fennel settles into more of a sweet territory than a licorice-y one and that mimics the sweetness in the corn while the pancetta is smoky and unctuous, the mascarpone and parm simultaneously creamy and nutty, and the basil fresh and green in a way only basil can be. It’s rich but not overwhelming and it’s a side dish that’s impressive until the very last bite.
Giada's Creamy Sweet Corn with Pancetta
5m prep time
20m cook time
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 lb pancetta, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
- 1 (16 oz) bag sweet corn, thawed
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add pancetta and cook until crispy, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- Add shallot, fennel, and red pepper flake and cook until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in corn and season with salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of water, then stir in mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bring just to a simmer, then remove from heat.
- Stir in basil, adjust seasoning as needed, and enjoy!
Recipe from Giadzy.