If your experience with corn is largely canned niblets or creamed, you have missed out on one of the singular pleasures of summer. Corn on the cob is summer in your hand, but most people simply boil it and finish it with butter. While classics got that way for a reason, it’s time to revisit this ingredient.
The magic of corn is it’s essentially a sugar delivery system, which is why picking it fresh, or having a reliable merchant who can assure you its freshness is of paramount importance. Every hour after an ear of corn is picked that it isn’t cooked or consumed, sugars inside the corn are turning to starch, which lends that “old popcorn” flavor to corn that’s synonymous with stale corn. If you’re planning on using the kernels in a recipe, make sure you cook the corn as soon as possible to lock in the sugars.
Corn’s Sugar is the Secret to Recipe Success
One of the best things you can do with corn is to roast it. Save the pot of water, shuck your corn down to the last layer of inner husk (or, for the more brave, remove all husks) and grill on medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. (Don’t crowd your grill. don’t let the cobs touch.) This will brown and in some places blacken the corn, caramelizing sugars in the corn and enhancing the essential flavor of the cob.
Once you’ve cooked your corn, time to think about ways of serving it. If you like Latin foods, you should consider making your corn in the style of Elote, a popular street food dish in Mexico. For this you will need Mayonnaise, Cotija cheese (though Feta works too), Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, ground cumin, lime quarters and chili flakes.
Set up a station to prepare the Elote. Place the ingredients in the order listed and let your guests add the ingredients they want as they move down the line.
This is a crowd pleaser, so budget 2-3 cobs per person.
There are many ways to use up corn you didn’t eat. Using a bundt pan, place the top of the cob in the hole in the centre of the pan, and using a very sharp knife, cut the kernels away from the corn.
Once you’ve got your kernels liberated, you can make a salad out of them using other seasonal vegetables, or even the remaining Elote ingredients.
You can also easily make corn chowder with a few ingredients: chicken or vegetable stock, cream or a vegan cream substitute, and lime to brighten up the soup. Want to make it South East Asian? Add hot sauce and a dash of fish sauce.
Do not miss out on the short season of corn just because you’re unsure what to do with it. Corn is an easy to prepare vegetable that loves to be paired with ingredients and is versatile in many dishes you can make with little experience.