Having grown up in the Midwest, I know two things very, very well: Winter, and Sweet Corn.
I had no idea or expectation when we moved to CO 8 years ago that it too was a land full of sweetness – What a delicious surprise! Colorado’s own Olathe Sweet Corn has been rolling into farmers markets and our local Whole Foods for a few weeks now, and hopefully will for a few weeks more! This Labor Day, be sure to enjoy a bunch (or a bushel!) before the season is over.
Here at Laughing Lemon Pie, our love of corn is well documented. Lacy has encouraged us to Eat More (Real) Corn, making it Sustainable Eating Tip No. 7. In fact, Lacy recently learned the easiest way to cook corn: microwave whole corn cobs (husks and all). Cut off the stem end, grab and gently pull the husk at the silk end, give it a bit of a twist, and…all the silk will magically come off with the husk! The only work left for you is to decide how to enjoy it.
Although straight-up and un-doctored corn on the cob is one of life’s great pleasures, we’ve got a few other ideas for you and favorites to share.
Grilled Corn – Grilling is always a great way to amp up flavor, and BA’s Ultimate Guide is a great starting point.
Cornbread – While traditional cornbread is of course derived from ground dried corn, many recipes add fresh corn kernels to double the fun. Whether the recipe calls for it or not, you can add fresh corn kernels to any cornbread recipe to make it more corn-y. I have a personal collection of 33 recipes for cornbread of all stripes, but in the double corn category I recommend Corn-on-Corn Bread or Cornbread with Bacon Crust (substitute fresh kernels for the frozen ones called for in this recipe).
Corn Salsa – Mark Bittman has a great corn salsa recipe that features poblano chiles and lime juice. Corn salsa is pretty easy to whip up and riff on to your own taste and could be as simple as mixing freshly cut kernels into store-bought red or green salsa. Choose whether you like your corn raw or slightly cooked. Fire-roasted green chiles are coming to market now too you know, and mixing chopped hatch chiles with fresh corn would make any chip happy. To go above-and-beyond salsa, try Charred and Raw Corn with Chile and Cheese – it lives somewhere between salsa and salad (but let’s not split hairs).
Corn Salad – There are a bevy of side salads that feature summer’s best vegetable. Lacy’s Fiesta Quinoa Salad is easy to summer-ize with fresh tiny cherry tomatoes and raw or barely cooked sweet corn. A similar salad is the warm Corn and Summer Vegetable Saute, which could probably benefit from the addition of quinoa (couldn’t just about everything?). Mark Bittman’s Pan-Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad is another great way to get the best of summer in one bite.
Maque Choux – Throw that term out the next time you want to find a Lou-see-ann-ophile in a crowd! “Mock Shoe” is a braised corn dish, a side dish or the base for a lovely piece of cajun-spiced fish, shrimp, or grilled chicken. The bacon version is more traditional, but the vegetarian recipe can’t be half bad either – I mean we are talking about fresh, sweet, divine corn here, right?
Corn Tacos – Poblano chiles and corn are best buds, agreed? So imagine charred poblanos, grilled corn, and creamy cojita cheese all wrapped up and toasty warm – ack! Yep, that one’s a winner every time – Poblano Rajas with Roasted Corn from Denver’s own Pinche Taqueria.
Corn Fritters – Where I’m from, a fritter must be both spherical and deep-fried – but it seems that national media has taken to confusing fritters with pancakes. Sigh – whaddayagonnado? Bon Appetit’s Corn-Jalapeño Fritters are like pancakes made from corn salsa, and Martha’s Corn Fritters include cornmeal, fresh corn, and nice instructions on how to get the corn off the cob.
Chili – Corn and chili go hand in hand as the sweetness of the corn can balance out a great deal of spice, meat, and chiles. Chili recipes are another category I collect heavily in, and last week I made this Spicy Corn and Chicken Chili to take camping. It was the perfect thing, and now I’ve got two more re-purposed yogurt containers full of this dinner gold in the deep freeze for later.
Canned Corn Relish – After seeing so much corn at the farmers market and watching Chef Sean Brock throw together a great meal out of things canned and fresh from the garden, I canned corn for the first time this summer. I started with the Canned Corn Relish recipe out of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, but omitted the cabbage (ewww?), added a ton more peppers than called for, and kept to the low end of their sugar recommendation. The idea with canning is that you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh summery taste of corn all winter long but I don’t think we’re going to make it that far seeing as how we’ve already gone through 4 jars.
Corn Butter – Never heard of such a thing? Yeah, me neither until I read Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook (Food52 Works). Corn butter is rather unbelievable stuff – There’s a good reason this cookbook’s title includes the word “genius.” After removing the kernels from the cob, you blend then strain the corn – ending up with corn juice. Corn juice on it’s own is pretty much WOW, but heating the corn juice changes it entirely! I was really surprised by the transformation. Kind of like when you start a pot of polenta – turn your back for one minute and it’s suddenly thick! Slather this sunny spread on toast – it’s as sweet as jam, and such a unique way to enjoy corn.
Shrimp and Corn – For me, this is another great pairing. Any combination of beans, shrimp, tomatoes, corn, and chiles or spice equals yum in my book. Two favorites around here are Cajun Shrimp and Corn or Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Salad.
Share with us your family’s favorite way to enjoy this corn season! And if you have a cornbread recipe to recommend I’m always looking for contenders – leave a note, link, or recipe in the comments below! Need more ways to get corn in you? Our man Bittman has 12 simple uses for corn off the cob.