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Corn and Zucchini Timbales (Timbales de Elote y Calabacitak)

These savory custards get a flavor boost from a sauce made with roasted poblabo chilies. To roast the chilies, use long-handled tongs to hold them over a gas-stove burner until their skins are evenly blistered and charred, about 5 minutes; or roast directly over a very hot charcoal or gas grill. Alternatively, roast under a preheated broiler, turning occasionally, until evenly blackened and blistered, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chilies to a paper bag and let stand for 5 minutes before peeling. If desired, decorate each timbale with strips of green zucchini peel.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or briefly thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 3 small zucchini, trimmed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

For the sauce:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 poblano chilies, roasted (see note above), seeded and deveined
  • 3 cups milk, scalded
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Rub six 1-cup timbale molds with the butter.

In a blender or food processor, combine the corn and water. Add the eggs, sugar, flour, cream and the 1 tsp. salt and blend just until well mixed.

If garnishing the timbales with zucchini peel, using a zester or sharp knife, remove long, narrow strips of peel from 1 zucchini. Cut each strip into strips 3 inches long. You will need a total of 12 strips. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, add the strips and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water and lay the strips out on a plate.

Using the large holes on a handheld grater, grate the zucchini, including the one just peeled. You should have 1 cup. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt, toss well and let stand for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini in a kitchen towel to remove the excess liquid, then stir the zucchini into the corn mixture along with the thyme. Divide the corn mixture evenly among the prepared molds.

Place the molds in a baking pan, being careful that they do not touch. Pour hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the molds. Carefully place the baking pan in the oven and bake the timbales until a knife inserted into the center of a mold comes out slightly oily but clean, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add the chilies and 1/2 cup of the hot milk and puree until very smooth.

In a fry pan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the hot milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk and the pureed chili mixture. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 4 minutes. Add a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Remove the timbales from the baking pan and let stand for several minutes. To unmold, run a knife around the edge of each mold, place a plate on top and turn the timbale out on the plate. If using the zucchini strips, arrange 2 strips on top of each timbale. Spoon the sauce around or over the timbales and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Mexico, by Marilyn Tausend (Time-Life Books, 2000).