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Corn on the Cob is Sweet in Summer
June 17, 2009 - Jenn Lucas
Who can imagine summer without sweet corn? Be it white, yellow or bi-colored, corn on the cob is staple of the summer menu, in my house at least. Even in Florida, it’s a little on the tough side to find fresh corn in the grocery store in winter so take the summer to saver every sweet, little kernel you can get you hands on.
How to select
When you’re shopping for corn on the cob, you want to make sure the ones you buy are still in its green husk. Once peeled and exposed to light, they begin to lose their sweetness — so no matter how tempting half-peeled, pre-packed sweet corn may look, it won’t be nearly as tasty as ones you shuck yourself. I remember growing up my mom would send me to the back porch with a half dozen ears and let me shuck away, leaving nature to clean up after me. It would take me at least a half-hour to free the ears. I would diligently peel off each layer slowly for some reason. When I grew up I had this notion shucking corn takes a lot of time. But now that my hands are bigger and I’m stronger, three peels and the husk is gone.
The smaller the ear, the sweeter the corn, so don’t fall for the bigger is better idea. You also want to peel the husk back slightly on one side before you buy it, I only do enough the revel the first 10 lines or so, to make sure the kernels are nice and tight and there are no dreaded corn worms. One of those slimy bugs can turn your appetite from “crazy about corn” to “no thanks” rather quickly. Always try to not peel too much at the store so you can have more fun with cooking it later.
Cooking sweet corn
The easiest way to cook a cob, which yields a surprisingly tasty ear, is in the microwave. Yes, the microwave. Place a whole, unshucked corn in there for at least 5 minutes, depending on size, and when it dings, your corn is done. It will be really, really hot so be careful removing the husks. But in 5 minutes, you have a healthy, yummy snack and you didn’t even have to heat up the kitchen.
If you want to make more than one ear, I recommend boiling them. You want to find the biggest pot you have, place the peeled ears in it, cover with water and add a tablespoon of sugar. Once it boils, I like to leave it go for about 10 minutes, and then you can turn off the heat and cover it. It will stay good until you’re ready to serve. Make sure to leave it in the water or the kernels will pucker after a few minutes. Grilling corn has also become popular as of late. I don’t like this method one bit. I don’t feel it adds much flavor to the corn for how much work is involved. There are two ways to grill it — with or without husks. I’ve tried both. If you’re going to grill it with the husks, make sure to soak it in water for a half hour prior to cooking. Trust me, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP or you will have charred corn husks floating about your yard. Not only is this dangerous for the Lehigh area fire-wise, it also makes a big mess. To grill without husks, I butter the ears with an herbed butter (which I’ll write about in the near future) and wrap them in tin foil before tossing on the grill for 10-15 minutes.
Silks, or the corn strings as I called them when I was younger, can be tough to deal with. I don’t mind them and usually brush off what I can before boiling or rub a damp paper towel over them to help pull them off easier. If you cook it in the husk, after cooking the silks come off in one pull.
Everyone can enjoy summer sweet corn on the cob. Even my grandparents, who lost their real chompers years ago, (and will be really mad if they read this) still enjoy the taste of sweet corn by cutting it off the cob. Still, though, the somewhat tough kernel casings may be too much for some, but check out my recipe for creamed corn below which affords everyone the opportunity to enjoy the summer bounty. If you have teeth though, dig in, there’s nothing better than crisp, sweet corn on the cob dripping with butter.
Southwest-style creamed corn
You can make just good, old plain creamed corn from this recipe, just omit the peppers and onions.
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup red pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ears corn, husked
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons butter
Directions Cut the kernels from cob and into a bowl using a knife or corn-cutter gadget. Scrape the back of a knife against the cob to press out the milky liquid into the bowl.
Add sugar, flour and salt and pepper to corn. Add the heavy cream and water. Mix.
In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Add jalapeño, red and green peppers and onions. Cook until softened. Add corn mixture and turn heat down to medium-low, stirring until it becomes creamy, about 30 minutes.
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