I love the word cornucopia. Do you have any vivid memories that have to do specificly with learning a favorite, “fancy” word? Or is that one of those things they teach you not to do when you attend ‘how not to be an incorrigible geek school’? Either way, I distinctly remember learning the word cornucopia in early grade school and being instantly entranced by it. “Cornucopia!” Doesn’t it just ring with the sound of everything lovely and wonderful…and delicious?!
It was around Thanksgiving time, unsurprisingly, and our lesson in class was to draw a cornucopia by drawing a loopy spiral that grew smaller and smaller and curved off into a little tail, and then outlining it to turn it into a horn. Then we were to fill it with drawings of all the wonderful bounty of fall, the corn, and squash, a pie (since that was my favorite part of the concept of Thanksgiving) and, if my memory is accurate (which I’m told it isn’t always – the curse/gift of storytelling) a big fat turkey wearing a pilgrim hat. Because apparently the pilgrims were prone to using their dinner as either a hat rack or a source of entertainment before fire roasting it on a spit.
The drawing project was fun – who doesn’t like making a loopy spiral? – but what I really loved was learning to say and spell, “corn-u-co-pia.” My mother, who happens to have just finished a children’s book on Greek words, would be certain to want me to let you know that the word cornucopia comes from the Greek myth of the horn of plenty, which came from the goat Almathea. Just imagine, a horn from which pours forth any and all of the foods and drinks you could possibly desire. Mmmmmm. I can’t even begin to make the list! It will make me hungry.
Buuuut, if you twist my arm I might say that this pie comes pretty close to capturing the essence of the bounty I imagine tumbling out of the horn of plenty. (And I swear it’s not just because the word cornucopia has corn in it and so does this pie.) This pie is voluptuous (didn’t learn that one in early grade school!), with a bushel of end of summer produce, a load of bacon and a sprinkling of cheese all bundled up into a package that feels almost ready to burst at its buttery, crumbly seams with flavor.
It basically follows the premise of a quiche. That is to say, chopped vegetables (often sautéed, but not necessarily), cheese, maybe a little flavorful meat all in a pie crust and topped with eggs whisked with cream. I call this a pie though because it’s more abundant on the vegetable filling and mostly just uses the eggs to bind it all together. It takes the sweetness of corn, sautéed onions, and sweet bell pepper and wraps it up in the smokey saltiness of bacon. I decided not even to use any herbs in order to concentrate purely on what the bacon and vegetables have to offer. Divine. (You know, like a horn from a Greek goat.)
Corn and Bacon Pie
One 9-inch piecrust
About 8 pieces of bacon
The kernels cut off from 5 cobs of corn (about 1 ¾ cups)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ cups cream or milk
about 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll out the pie crust and place it into a pie plate and crimp the edges. Chill until you’re ready to use it. Fry the bacon in a large pan until it’s crispy and place the strips of bacon on a plate with a paper towel and drain it. Save about 1-2 Tbs. of the bacon grease in the pan, add the onion and peppers and fry them over medium for 7 or 8 minutes until they’re getting tender, then stir in the corn kernels and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. If you want to make the pie vegetarian, skip the bacon and use a couple Tbs. of butter to fry the vegetables. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk/cream, salt and pepper. Chop the bacon into bits and sprinkle half of it on the bottom of the pie crust, then sprinkle on the cheese. Scrape the corn, onions, and pepper into the pie crust and pour the egg mixture over it. Sprinkle the remaining bacon bits on top. Put the pie pan onto a baking sheet with a rim and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the center has set. Remove and allow to cool some before slicing and serving. Accompany with a green salad, or some good tomatoes tossed with a little olive oil, fresh basil, and a touch of salt.