Sweet corn available now at the market
What a wonderful time of the year when sweet corn starts to make its way onto our grocer’s shelves. There are several varieties, but once we choose our favorite what do we do with it?
The old standby method is to boil it, slather it with butter, then sprinkle with salt. I love it that way, but how long do we boil it? There are lots of techniques to have the “perfect” boiled corn. Some methods have you turning off the heat when you add the corn and covering your pot for a certain number of minutes. That method works, but what it truly comes down to is how done is done?
In my household, we differ on the “finished” product. My wife likes her sweet corn more done than I do. If my ears of corn are at room temperature (room temperature, that’s a hint), all I do is bring the pot to a rolling boil and add the corn for just 3 minutes.
My wife wants hers to cook as long as 10 minutes. I feel it’s important to honor my loving wife, whether I agree with her or not. So, I bring the pot to a boil, add my wife’s corn, wait 7 minutes and add my corn. They finish at the same time and marital harmony is maintained.
Have you tried boiling corn for different lengths of time? We did it the other day and two things happened worth noting. I put my wife’s corn in first and mine in second. When I was ready to take them out I noticed I forgot to mark which corn was which. So, without a taste test it was impossible to tell.
Second, I really love sweet corn prepared this way and I eat my corn fast. Usually my wife says to me, “Chef,” (try as I might, she doesn’t actually call me Chef). “Darrel, nobody’s going to steal it from you.” So, I slow down for a moment and, when her focus returns to her meal, I go back to my corn heaven.
There are cookbooks devoted to corn and I would love to give you several recipes here, but space does not allow. There are many kinds of corn soup and I have chosen a sweet corn chowder for today.
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
½ cup whole milk
2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off
1 cup frozen diced hash brown potatoes
2 Tbl chopped fresh chives
1 tsp lemon juice
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Drain most of the bacon fat and add oil, butter, onion, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown and soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook another minute. Sprinkle flour over the onion mixture and stir to coat, cook for about 2 minutes. Add broth and milk and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Add corn and potatoes, increase heat and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and transfer 1 cup of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Return the pureed soup to the saucepan along with chives, lemon juice and the cooked bacon.
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