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Shrimp and corn cobbler

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The Runaway Spoon

(Read caption) This dish is simple enough for a weeknight dinner, and sophisticated enough for a gathering of friends.

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Shrimp and corn pie recipes appear in a number of Southern community cookbooks, and I’ve tried a few. But I have always thought they lacked a little oomph. But the delicious combination of shrimp and corn deserves attention, so I put my mind to it and decided on a tangy filling and an old-fashioned biscuit top to make perfect transitional comfort food for when summer has wound up, but it is not quite cool enough for heavy winter stews.

The clean, bright taste of white wine and lemon complement sweet corn and juicy shrimp without overwhelming either. I forego a lot of extra add-ins to highlight that simple pairing. Tender biscuits soak up the light and creamy sauce with an extra hit of lemon and thyme. This dish is simple enough for a family dinner, but sophisticated for a gathering of friends.

Shrimp and corn cobbler
Serves 6 

For the filling:

3 tablespoons butter

2 bunches green onions (about 12)

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

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2 tablespoons flour

1 cup white wine [Editor's note: May substitute cooking wine]

2 cups whole milk

Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (12-ounce) package frozen corn, thawed and drained

1 pound frozen Gulf shrimp, thawed and drained

For the topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Zest of one lemon

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan (I use a 1-1/2 quart oven safe pan). Finely chop the green onions and add to the butter. Sauté until soft and translucent. Put the garlic clove through a press or finely mince it and add to the pan with the thyme leaves. Cook for about a minute, just until the garlic is fragrant. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until you have a smooth, pale mixture. 

2. Add the white wine and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Slowly add the milk, stirring the whole time, and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add the corn and stir until combined. 

3. Take the pot of the heat and add the shrimp, stirring to combine completely. The shrimp will begin to gently poach, but do not need to be fully cooked as the dish is going in the oven. At this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the filling for several hours. (If you are not using an oven-safe saucepan, scrape the filling into a baking dish.)

For the topping:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix the flour, cornmeal, lemon zest, thyme, baking powder, salt, and pepper together with a fork in a large bowl. Mix the buttermilk, egg, and butter together in a small bowl. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a biscuit dough.

3. Scoop 1/4 cup mounds of the topping over the top of the filling to cover. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the biscuits are firm and golden and the filling is hot through and bubbling.

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