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CHILE-CORN CUSTARD CAZUELAS

The green chiles in this recipe form a lovely and unusual crust for the golden custard. For greatest flair, prepare in and serve in earthenware bowls (cazuelas).

Yield: 12 servings

2 dozen while large, fresh New Mexican green chiles, parched, and sliced open
6 eggs, beaten
4 cans (15 ounces each) yellow cream-style corn
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal (if desired, crumbled tostado or taco shells may be substituted)
1 ½ teaspoons salt (reduce amount if using salted tostados)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 Tablespoons sweet butter melted

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (not necessary to grate if using a food processor or blender; can use low or no-fat cheddar or Jack cheese to reduce fat)

1. Butter 12 ovenproof earthenware bowls or individual casseroles. Then peel the chiles, remove the stems, and rinse out the seeds, leaving the chiles whole. Place two whole, sliced open chiles in each casserole, big or stem end up, slightly above the rim of each bowl. As uniformly as possible, stretch the two chiles to cover the bottom and sides of each.

2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until well blended.

3. Pour into the individual, green chile-lined casseroles, dividing the mixture evenly. Bake 30 minutes at 375F, then reduce the temperature to 325F for another 10 minues, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. These keep amazingly well. I’ve kept them in a 150Foven for 3 to 4 hours while waiting serving time and they really do not suffer. Place the casserole dishes on a service plate to serve.

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