Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waffling Leftovers: Corn Cheese

Yes, I use my waffle iron as my preferred method of reheating leftovers, whenever I can.  It often leads to great discoveries (I no longer want to eat pizza any other way!), and sometimes leads to, uh, less successful results.

You can read all about my waffling leftovers adventures here.

Today's question: "Corn Cheese" - Will it waffle?

The answer, unfortunately, is no.  But it doesn't mean the results weren't delicious!

The Original

First, I probably need to back up.  What is ... "corn cheese"?  It is a Korean dish, made from, I'm not joking, the following ingredients: corn, butter, mayo (Japanese Kewpie mayo if you have it), cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and miso.  Corn, butter, and miso are relatively tame, but, then add in mayo and two types of cheese?  Behold, corn cheese (Lucky Peach recipe here).
Corn Cheese Casserole.
The original form of corn cheese is a thing of wonder.  A very thick layer of cheese on top.  Mayo and liquid cheesiness spilling out the sides.  Do you see any vegetables in here? Nah.  This dish is not really about the corn.

Corn cheese is delicious fresh from the oven in this form.  Hot, creamy, bubbling, comfort food.  The miso adds a touch of interesting flavor, and the mayo and cream cheese combine to create a very creamy sauce.  I love the top crust of cheese too.  And the corn?  Yup, its there, adding some texture and sweetness, but, really, this is about the cheese/mayo combo.


But of course, as with most leftovers I have, I decided to test out the idea of waffling my leftover corn cheese.  My hypothesis is that it would turn into something like a thai corn cake.
Leftover Corn Cheese.
If you have leftovers, which, you should, as this dish requires some restraint, it reheats pretty well in a toaster oven too, although some separation is expected.

I've found that I actually enjoy corn cheese nearly as much just straight from the fridge, cold, but it loses the creaminess and becomes more of a pasta salad, but, uh, with corn in place of the pasta.  Still tasty, but quite different.
Not Looking Good ...
I took the simple approach to waffling, and inserted a slab of corn cheese at 350 degrees.  I seemed to have forgotten all the lessons I learned when waffling mac and cheese though, namely, that I needed to crust it.

When I checked on it, I could tell things weren't going great.  It separated, which often happens, but, as I waited patiently, the situation didn't improve.  I could see it burning.  This was not going to be a case where just giving it more time magically fixes it.
Corn Cheese Rubble.
The corn cheese, sans crusting, most certainly did not form a waffle that held together.  Extracting it was quite the process, even with my nonstick waffle plates.  I ended up using a chopstick to scrape it all out, and then removing the plates to dump the rubble onto my plate.

It looked burnt.  It looked like a fail. I instantly turned on the toaster oven to just heat some more up normally.  I thought this was headed for the trash.  But I still tried a bite.

And, well, I liked it.

Was it a waffle?  Of course not.  But it was crispy corn with crispy bits of cheese.  It didn't actually taste burnt.  A waffle disaster, yes, but, still really tasty.

This was a transformation of the original dish for sure, the creaminess that I love so much from the regular hot version nonexistent here.  But, I really enjoyed it.
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