Choosing and Cooking Corn
There is nothing like the taste of corn, freshly picked from the garden or corn field, then promptly cooked and consumed. Sadly, few of us know this culinary pleasure because we don’t grow our own corn. It’s not hard to grow, mind you. It sprouts from seed easily if given even lousy soil – although it does prefer rich soil and lots of fertilizer. But some of us don’t have a sunny spot for it, and others find it succumbs to pests. So while corn from the grocery store is better than nothing, I really encourage you to try to find a “pick your own” spot for corn; then rush home (obeying traffic laws, please), cook it, and eat it. It won’t be quite as sweet and tasty if there were just minutes between picking and preparing, but it will still be better than store bought.
To select corn, look for moist, bright green husks. Feeling beneath the husks, you should detect the kernels. The silk (the fine, hair-like thread between the husk and the corn) should be brown and a little sticky; it shouldn’t be dry.
My favorite way to cook corn is to leave it in its husk, then toss it on the grill. Yep, that’s it. There’s no reason to soak the corn in water, or remove the silks, or any of the other things many people claim is necessary. Rotate the corn periodically, and when the husks are dark brown/blackish, remove them. Let the corn cool a bit before peeling away the husk and silk, then serve.
Another way my family enjoys corn is in Corn Chowder. It may seem strange to eat chowder on a hot summer’s day, but it’s actually cooling to the body. And, naturally, if you freeze in-season corn, you can save the chowder for the colder months.
Corn souffle is also delicious and Black Bean and Corn Salsa is perfect for all manner of summer meals, from picnics and barbecues to parties to ordinary dinners at home.
We also really enjoy Corn Sauté with various meats, including chicken, pork, or seafood. To make it, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (or 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil) in a skillet placed over medium heat. Stir in ¾ cup sliced green onions (scallions), plus a little salt, and sauté, stirring now and then, until the onions are tender. Add another tablespoon of butter, plus 2 cups fresh corn kernels, 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, 2 or 3 cloves garlic (minced), and a pinch or two of minced serrano chile. Sauté, stirring often, until the corn is tender-crisp. Remove the pan from the stove and add 1 ½ tablespoons chopped cilantro, a squeeze from a lime, and pepper to taste. Stir gently and let sit for 3 minutes. Stir again, scraping the bottom of the pan. Taste and add salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed. Serve on top of, or alongside, a meat.
What’s your favorite way to eat corn?