Friday, August 6, 2010

CORN IS AS HIGH AS AN ELEPHANT’S EYE





Corn 101

I eat corn only during the month of August. It is not that I do not like corn-it is that I only like it when it is fresh off the stalk and locally grown. There is nothing like corn that is sweet, firm and tasting of sunshine. Frozen corn tastes like….well, nothing and corn shipped out of season from wherever you live just doesn’t cut it either. I also only eat corn from a farmer I trust. I do not want the mass produced over sprayed and GMO stuff. I want real corn-the way nature intended it.

The best place to purchase corn is from a farmer’s market where it is picked that day. Peel back some of husk to expose the kernels. The kernels should be pale yellow and/or white and very plump. The husk should be fresh looking with the corn silk being very soft and pliable. Using your thumb nail, poke an end kernel. It should squirt forth milky white sap. Under ripe corn will contain a watery liquid; overripe corn will have a tough skinned kernel with doughy interiors.

The period of peak freshness for sweet corn is measured in minutes not hours or days. The best corn is simply the freshest corn. Storing sweet corn for long periods of time will destroy it. The sugar quickly turns to starch, losing flavor, quality and most of all sweetness. If you must store sweet corn, use perforated plastic bags and get it into the refrigerator as soon as possible. Warm temperatures hasten the conversion process. Try to use the corn within 1 to 2 days and do not husk until just prior to cooking. So basically you are running to the famer’s market, rushing home and cooking corn all within minutes of the corn having been picked.
That means planning ahead. When the CORN IS AS HIGH AS AN ELEPHANT’S EYE (Oklahoma-Rodgers and Hammerstein) it is time to pull out your favorite corn recipes. Here are a few to get you started.

Grilled Corn with Lime and Chipotle Aioli

Simple and delicious. Don’t worry about looking messy while eating corn on the cob. Once the corn is cooked, cut the cob into 2-3 inch rounds (use a heavy duty knife) and serve on a platter, lightly drizzled with aioli and extra lime wedges.

6 very fresh ears of corn
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes plus 1 whole lime cut into wedges
1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle in adobo, chopped finely (commonly found in most grocery stores)
½ cup homemade aioli or store bought
Kosher salt and pepper


1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium. Peel back the corn husk but leave it attached. Strip off the corn silk and discard. Brush the corn with olive oil and place on the grill. Grill the corn until the kernels are lightly browned and are easily pierced with a sharp knife.
2. Whisk the aioli, chipotle and lime juice together in a small bowl.
3. Cut the ears of corn into 2 inch rounds. Drizzle with the aioli and serve with additional lime wedges.







Corn Chowder

1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Olive oil
6 ears fresh sweet corn
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Suggested garnishes: cheddar cheese (if serving dairy), smoked salmon, chopped scallions, fresh cilantro

1. Place the onion, garlic and roasted pepper in a food processor and process until coarsely ground.
2. Heat a large sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil over medium heat. Add the sofrito (ground vegetables) and the smoked paprika. Cook the mixture until it most of the water had cooked out of it and the flavors are very concentrated.
3. Place a small bowl turned upside down in a larger bowl. Place an ear of corn on top of the upside down bowl and using a knife, scrape down the kernels into the larger bowl. Be sure to scrape the ear of corn firmly to get all of the corn “milk” out.
4. Add the corn to the sofrito. Add the stock and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the corn is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the corn chowder hot or cold. The soup can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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