Whether we are eating our corn on the cob, roasted and slathered with fresh hot butter or shucked in a hearty side, there's so many ways to enjoy this sweet or savory ingredient in the summer.
"I love using corn in my dishes due to its versatility. Different corns vary in flavor, such as silver queen corn, nice and sweet. How you prepare it can totally influence it's flavor as well. Oven roasting it with the husk on almost gives a flavor of hay. Grilling it makes it deliciously smoky and sweet. Or you can cut it off the cobb and make cream corn," says Mel Toledo, owner and chef of Foundation Social Eatery, just outside of Atlanta.
Picking a Husk
It's the summer time and everyone is having a BBQ at least once a week. Buy some local corn and get grilling! When you are choosing the corn, look for a deep yellow color and firm corn kernels, says Paige Hospitality Group's Corporate Executive Chef Stephen Yen. "The corn husk should also be fresh, when you peel it back you should hear a snap at the end. If the husk is wilted or discolored that's a sign that the corn has been off the stalk for too long," says Yen.
When you grill the corn you either want to leave the husk on or wrap the ears in aluminum foil. "We like to leave the husk on, because the water content will help the cooking process. In today's day you will also feel better by keeping the husk on instead of using aluminum foil because you're using less resources – it's all about "Going Green"! We suggest letting the corn cook off to the side, and not directly over the heating element. After about 15-20 minutes, check the corn. If it's ready, remove either the husk or aluminum and brush with butter, then place directly over the heating element for five seconds on each side," says Yen.
Shucking Your Corn
Not every dish will involve utilizing the cobb, in fact many don't. "Buy corn at the height of its growing season when it's most plentiful and delicious. Cook large quantities, de-cob and then freeze for year-round use. After you've cooked the corn and allowed it to cool, place a rimmed baking sheet in the sink. Cut the tip of the cob to create a flat end," says Kerry Dunnington, chef and author of two new cookbooks, Tasting the Seasons: Inspired, In-Season Cuisine That's Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun and This Book Cooks: Farm-Fresh Traditional Recipes for Healthy Contemporary Cooking.
"With a sharp paring knife (starting from the top) slice the corn as close to the cob as possible (you can usually cut about 4 rows at a time), removing corn until you've reached the bottom of the cob. Do this until you've finished removing all the kernels from the cob. With the dull side of the paring knife, use the same technique to extract the heart of the kernel from the cob. I freeze corn in one- and two-cup portions (it can be a bit difficult to separate fresh corn once frozen into portions)," says Dunnington. This helps when you need a certain measurement in recipes.
Crab and Corn Pancake
"Summer brings us such great products and we like to focus on the lighter side when it comes to seafood and let the main ingredient stand on its own. Presenting crab in a loose format, instead of a cake, lets the crab meat mold with other flavors as well as stand on its own. This is a great appetizer for a summer party," says Chef Tom Kern of The Local Chicago.
- 2 oz. crab meat, jumbo lump
- 1.5 ounces smoked bacon lardons
- 3 oz. tomatoes, roasted
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- In a hot sauté pan, Toss with melted butter, salt and pepper to taste until warm.
- Chopped chives to finish.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 to 4 ears corn
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 jalapeño, fine diced
- Roast corn for 40 minutes in oven. Remove corn kernels and add all other batter ingredients. Heat pan/griddle to medium to high heat, add 1 tbsp. oil and add batter. Turn after 3 minutes.
- Place cooked corn cake on plate then top with warm crab ingredients. Finish with goat cheese and a sprinkle of chives.