Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting the Most from Corn While It's Here - July 26, 2012

I don’t think there is any fresh food that’s goodness is so tied to picking and eating it at the right time as corn.  Believe it or not, we grew corn this year in our yard which gets very little sun.  In fact, John dug up a grassy area in our driveway to find enough area with good full sun.  Then, we had to plant it twice and install a fence the second time because our yard bunnies watched from the bushes and jumped out to eat any small shoots of corn immediately after they came up.  We had two rows of six grow quite well and we even planted beans at the foot of each stalk to grow up the corn.  We planted a bi-color sweet corn and it did well, but not all the stalks fully pollinated.  Corn cross pollinates by air, so I think we’ll plant them closer next year. 

Our bigger problem was picking at the right time.  We picked half a dozen at the perfect time (when the ‘silks’ are brown and dry and you can pierce the kernels with a fingernail) and ate them the very same day.  They were delicious.  Then we got too busy and picked the rest when they had gotten tough and starchy.  If you have this problem of getting too many ears and not being able to eat them in time, there is a better solution.  Corn freezes well.  Just cut it off the cob and freeze in a freezer bag (some folks boil on the cob a minute or two before removing and freezing the kernels).  Or, you can make a great salad like this which is great as a side dish or a salsa with fish tacos or corn chips.

Corn Salad

5 ears corn, cooked and removed from cob              
½ c. finely chopped sweet onion
3 T. cider vinegar                                                      
3 T. olive oil
½ tsp. salt                                                                 
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder or favorite seasoning mix
½ c. chopped fresh basil

But don’t stop there.  The kernels are not the only useful part of the corn.  In fact corn cobs have great flavor for several recipes.  I love corn cob jelly but have never made it.  Maybe someone will write in with a recipe.  But, if you’ve read my previous posts, you know how much I love making my own broths because it adds so much to home cooking.  Corn cobs make great broth.  You just place in a pot with fresh thyme, onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper and water to cover and boil.  Pour the infused broth into muffin tins and freeze.  Then pop them out into a freezer bag and keep until you are ready to make a great soup.  I know this sounds strange, but corn cobs also make great gelato.  Give it try:

Corn Cob Gelato
3 ears of sweet corn, preferably white, husked
3 1/2 cups (or more) whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cut kernels from corn cobs and reserve cobs.  Break each cob into 2–3 pieces.  Bring milk to a simmer in a large saucepan.  Add corn kernels and cobs. Remove mixture from heat, cover, and let steep for 45 minutes.

Remove cobs from milk and discard.  Purée mixture in batches in a blender.  Set a coarse strainer over a large bowl. Strain mixture, pressing on solids.  Discard solids.  Add more milk if needed to measure 3 1/2 cups.  Bring corn mixture, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and cream to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Set a strainer over a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture and return to saucepan.  Stir constantly over medium heat until custard registers 175°, about 2 minutes.

Immediately pour custard through strainer.  Place bowl with custard over a large bowl of ice water.  Let stand until cold, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate custard for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.  Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer to a container and freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Finally, you can also make use of the corn husks by making your own tamales.  Yum!!!!


2 cups masa harina corn flour
1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup lard
cheese, peppers, meat or other ingredients for filling
dried corn husks
1 cup sour cream

Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the filling into the center of each. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer.  Steam for 1 hour.

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