The texture of this savory pudding is similar to that of ricotta. It has a slight bite of heat and the corn adds a subtle sweetness.
Technique tip: Don't skip the water bath when making this corn pudding: Cooking the custard without a water bath will make it rubbery instead of moist and the pudding will have a tendency to crack.
Swap option: Use Gouda cheese instead of Monterey Jack and queso fresco instead of Cotija.
Cook cornbread according to package directions. After cooking, adjust oven temperature to 350° F.2.
Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons butter and when it foams, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened and slightly browned. Add the 1/4 cup corn, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes, until the corn is tender. Set aside and let cool.3.
In a blender, process the remaining 3/4 cup of corn with the milk, and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in the egg and egg yolks, cream, blended corn, 1¼ teaspoons salt, the cayenne and a pinch of black pepper. Add the grated cheese, canned poblanos and onion mixture. Stir well.4.
Grease an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Slice cornbread, then break up half of the cornbread into small pieces and arrange it in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Save the remaining half for another use.
Pour the custard mixture over the cornbread, pressing down with your fingers to make sure the bread soaks up the custard. Scatter the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme over the top.5.
Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and pour warm water into the bottom of the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the custard is set and the cornbread puffs up slightly. The pudding will be springy to the touch. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.6.
Before serving, toss the Cotija and the cilantro leaves with the olive oil, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and a squeeze of lime together in a bowl and arrange over the top of the pudding.