2 pounds frozen corn kernels, 4 15.5 cans corn kernels (drained), or kernels from 5 to 6 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 cup milk, whole or 2 percent
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
Black pepper, to taste
Combine the corn, sugar, and salt in the slow cooker.
Pour the milk over the top of the corn.
Dot the surface with butter and cream cheese. Cut the butter and cream cheese into small pieces, then scatter them over the surface of the corn. Do not mix them in.
Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 4 to 6 hours. If you’re around while this is cooking, stir the corn once during the second half of cooking to prevent a crust from forming around the edge and fold the partially melted cream cheese and butter into the corn. This helps prevent a crust from forming around the edge, but it’s not strictly necessary.
Stir the corn thoroughly at the end of cooking. When you first stir the corn, the cream cheese, milk, and butter might look fairly thin and a bit curdled. Continue to gently stir until they come together into a creamy sauce. Taste the creamed corn and add additional salt or sugar, as well as fresh black pepper, to taste.
Adjust the consistency of the creamed corn: Let the corn stand for a few minutes, either with the heat off or on the “warm” setting, to give the sauce time to set. Stir again to check the consistency. If it seems thicker than you’d like, stir in some milk. If it’s thinner than you’d like, let the creamed corn stand for a few more minutes before serving; it will continue to thicken as it stands.
Serve the creamed corn: Transfer the creamed corn to a serving bowl, or you can serve it directly from the slow cooker. For buffets, leave the slow cooker on the “warm” setting to keep the creamed corn warm; check the corn occasionally and stir in more milk if it seems to get too thick.
Extra-decadent heavy cream version: Is this creamed corn not quite decadent enough for you? I respect that. Just replace the milk with 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup water. You might as well throw in another 4 tablespoons of butter while you’re at it — why not? Enjoy!