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David Ross

eG Cook-Off #83: A Bounty of Sweet Corn

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Gordon MacRae in Oklahoma, 1955.jpg

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5APc0z49wg

"There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky
Oh, what a beautiful mornin'
Oh, what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way"

 

As Gordon MacRae sang in Oklahoma in 1955, it is indeed a" beautiful mornin" and a beautiful time of summer when the corn is "as high as an elephant's eye."  It's the season of fresh sweet corn.  

 

Sweet corn is a hybridized variety of maize with high sugar content.  Also called sugar corn or pole corn, sweet corn is the result of a naturally occurring spontaneous mutation in the genes which control the conversion of sugar to starch inside the corn kernel.  Sweet corn was grown by several Native American nations and was introduced to European settlers in 1779 by the Iroquois.  It soon became a popular food in the southern and central regions of the United States. 

 

Unlike field corn, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and mature, sweet corn is picked when the kernels are moist and sweet at what scientists call the "milk stage."  Once the corn reaches maturity, the process of converting sugar to starch is quick.  Varieties of sweet corn are typically divided according to their sugar content, their color and the number of days it takes to mature. Sweet corn varieties mature anywhere from 65 to 86 days. Those that mature in 70 days or less are typically considered early summer varieties.  Thus, sweet corn has a short harvest season but freezes and cans well so we can enjoy it throughout the year. 

 

The science and horticultural details of sweet corn are interesting, but my Father had a shorter, clearer example.  He held a degree in agriculture from Oregon State University and worked for the Oregon Department of Agriculture for over 30 years.  On Sunday drives through the Willamette Valley east of Salem, we drove by many cornfields "as high as an elephant's eye."  "That's sweet corn there."  He instinctively could tell the difference between sweet corn and what he called "feeder corn," (field corn), by the way it looked, how it was growing and how the field was planted.  Feeder corn is the term we used to describe corn that was grown and harvested for livestock feed.  Premium corn indeed, but not the sweet corn we'd buy at the local farm stand in August.

 Yakima Sweet Corn Fields.JPG

 

Yakima, Washington Sweet Corn Field

 

From Latin America to Malaysia, China to India and the United States, sweet corn is used in hundreds of different dishes.  I personally like an ear of corn simply boiled until soft then slathered with salted butter.  Another favorite is grilled corn added to creamed corn with bacon and served with grilled chicken or quail.  One of my sweet corn favorites is scorned by other family members-summer succotash with sweet corn, lima beans, and peppers.  This season I've been thinking about a dish I recently saw on "Trails to Oishi Tokyo" on NHK broadcasting.  The Japanese hold high regard for sweet corn from how it is cultivated, harvested and used in cooking.  I've been thinking about sweet corn tempura with a simple dipping sauce with grated daikon radish.

Let's join together and share the virtues of sweet corn and our best corn dishes.

See the complete eG Cook-Off index here: http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/

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I'm old enough to remember eating corn before Peaches and Cream became the only corn available in Ontario.  The only name I can recall is Chieftain.  And then one year...there was this 'new' corn on the market, Peaches and Cream.  Delicious.  And so sweet.  And then bit by bit, it took over the market and now it seems that all the older and less sweet varieties are simply gone.  And I'm speaking not only from the grocery stores, but also from the corn stands along the highways and in the local markets.  

 

Our spring this year was so cold and rainy that the crops are at least two weeks behind and I've seen only one local corn stand open.  Of course, alas, most of the corn stands sell corn which is not local.  

 

All in all, it ain't the way it used ta be.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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In Eastern Washington we've had an unusual summer so far and I think the sweet corn won't be ready, or good, for another two weeks.  June was mild and July only had one week with our typically hot, dry weather.  We're always at least 3 weeks behind the west side of the mountains in terms of when fruits and vegetables come mature.  

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Posted (edited)

Mmmm, corn!  Just last night for dinner we had soup called Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup, recipe courtesy of the NYTimes.  The main ingredients besides the obvious were shallots, garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, potatoes and coconut milk.  I added shrimp at the end.  Topped the soup with chopped peanuts, cilantro and fried shallots.  Served with toutons (fried bread). The recipe is in my "keeper" file.


Edited by ElsieD Changed the keeper to my keeper for clarity (log)
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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

Mmmm, corn!  Just last night for dinner we had soup called Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup, recipe courtesy of the NYTimes.  The main ingredients besides the obvious were shallots, garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, potatoes and coconut milk.  I added shrimp at the end.  Topped the soup with chopped peanuts, cilantro and fried shallots.  Served with toutons (fried bread). The recipe is in the "keeper" file.

Where is the "keeper" file?  It did not turn up in my search...but then I'm not very adept at computer stuff. 

 

Found it. 


Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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17 minutes ago, Darienne said:

Where is the "keeper" file?  It did not turn up in my search...but then I'm not very adept at computer stuff. 

 

Found it. 

 

Should have said my keeper file not the keeper file.

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23 minutes ago, David Ross said:

Sounds delicious.  Do you cut up or peel off pieces of the fried bread?  I think corn is a natural for all those ingredients, especially coconut milk.

 

 

Worse.  I cut them in half and slathered them with butter.😊

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49 minutes ago, David Ross said:

Sounds delicious.  Do you cut up or peel off pieces of the fried bread?  I think corn is a natural for all those ingredients, especially coconut milk.

 

Does anyone think I could defrost a frozen pizza dough and use that for toutons?  I could make bread dough I know....but I have this pizza lump.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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1 hour ago, Darienne said:

Peaches and Cream became the only corn available in Ontario

 

I distinctly remember we grew  Country Gentleman variety for market.   The kernels didn't seem to get mealy with age and the young ears kernels (my favorite) just would POP in your mouth as you worked down that ear of corn.  Silver Queen became a very popular variety, but we never grew it.   Once the SuperSweet varieties were introduced, the public's taste for traditional sweet corn changed quickly, and there was no going back to the less sweet, but more corn flavored varieties.

 

We grew supersweet exclusively for a few years until we stopped truck farming altogether and went full grain/soy production.

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39 minutes ago, lemniscate said:

 

I distinctly remember we grew  Country Gentleman variety for market.   The kernels didn't seem to get mealy with age and the young ears kernels (my favorite) just would POP in your mouth as you worked down that ear of corn.  Silver Queen became a very popular variety, but we never grew it.   Once the SuperSweet varieties were introduced, the public's taste for traditional sweet corn changed quickly, and there was no going back to the less sweet, but more corn flavored varieties.

 

We grew supersweet exclusively for a few years until we stopped truck farming altogether and went full grain/soy production.

 

Truthfully I'm not a fan of the super-sweets, which is why I so seldom eat corn anymore. I don't dislike it the way Liuzhou does, I just find it cloying.

 

I *could* grow my own, but my garden is small and I'm reluctant to sacrifice a block to anything that's not a big-time favorite.

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"The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself."

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

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2 minutes ago, chromedome said:

 

Truthfully I'm not a fan of the super-sweets, which is why I so seldom eat corn anymore. I don't dislike it the way Liuzhou does, I just find it cloying.

 

I *could* grow my own, but my garden is small and I'm reluctant to sacrifice a block to anything that's not a big-time favorite.

I have to agree with this.  Very often, I am now finding sweet corn to be too sweet. It seems like other flavor is being sacrificed for the sake of sweetness as well.

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This is a photo of my Father at the annual corn feed at the Oregon State Fair horse show.  One of the trainers was from Eugene, Oregon in the southern part of the Willamette Valley. The horse show was about a week in late August and at the mid-week point he'd bring in boxes and boxes of sweet corn off his farm.  All the show exhibitors and trainers looked forward to it every year.  This photo was back in 1971 so I doubt we had very many super sweet types of corn back then, but the sweet corn we did have was really, really delicious.

 

Father Eating Corn.jpg

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From the archives...

 

Corn with basil and scallops

439048730_0071(2).thumb.jpg.fd95544a4176968372e0a1e209fd2089.jpg

 

 

Charred corn salad with basil and lime juice

1003841683_003(6).thumb.jpg.f160a539cb8d9e7323a76754603202aa.jpg

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@David Ross I love your dad. That photo is a reminder that no one can multitask when eating great corn on the cob. It takes all your attention and its reward is a price above rubies.

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Question about grilled sweet corn on the cob.  I know that most people probably follow the method of pulling back the husks and pulling off the silk.  Then forming the husk back over the ear before grilling.  I guess the idea is to protect the corn from the heat of the grill.  I sometimes use that method, but more often I pull off the husks, the silk and then put the ear of corn on the grill.  I happen to like the char and grill marks, but you do have to watch it so it doesn't burn.  What do you think?

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Another question-do you slather ears of sweet corn in butter?  Salted or unsalted?  I'm searching for a photo of grilled sweet corn that I brushed with harissa.  The August issue of Bon Appetit recommends harissa-mint, lemon-herb, parmesan and even a miso-sesame butter.  What do you like on sweet corn on the cob?

 

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I completely shuck it. I sometimes slather with a mix of olive oil/butter with garlic, lime, ground chipotle and salt.

Harissa-mint sounds pretty good. 

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That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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Unless I'm grilling the corn for a recipe where I want to make sure it stays more tender, I grill it completely shucked, I like that caramelized flavor that you get on the edge of the niblets!

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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I slather mine with unsalted butter because we don't use salted butter.  However  I then sprinkle it with fleur de sel and pepper.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/13/2019 at 10:11 AM, David Ross said:

Question about grilled sweet corn on the cob.  I know that most people probably follow the method of pulling back the husks and pulling off the silk.  Then forming the husk back over the ear before grilling.  I guess the idea is to protect the corn from the heat of the grill.  I sometimes use that method, but more often I pull off the husks, the silk and then put the ear of corn on the grill.  I happen to like the char and grill marks, but you do have to watch it so it doesn't burn.  What do you think?

I cheat and use a torch. I never get it right, grilled. 


Edited by gfweb (log)
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Posted (edited)

Corn Soup w  Fregola and Nasturtium Pesto  /  I added fried shoulder bacon and Dave Power seed Bread croutons

 

Corn Soup--  from " once upon a chef     

Fried  Bacon in Evoo ( that bit of oil I used in the pesto )

Nasturtium Pesto-  Nasturtium leaves/ Pine nuts/ Bacon fried oil/ parm cheese/ lemon juice/ a bit of sugar/ salt/ pepper --Possibly basil could have worked here..  but Nasturtium was closer   :)

 

Bread croutons-- made from bread from Fresh Thyme  ( Daves Power seed bread )

 

48532566027_316f91b729_o.thumb.jpg.78fcbba94ab7930590e21d23bbf8c294.jpg

 

 


Edited by Paul Bacino (log)
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Its good to have Morels

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12 hours ago, Paul Bacino said:

Corn Soup w  Fregola and Nasturtium Pesto  /  I added fried shoulder bacon and Dave Power seed Bread croutons

 

Corn Soup--  from " once upon a chef     

Fried  Bacon in Evoo ( that bit of oil I used in the pesto )

Nasturtium Pesto-  Nasturtium leaves/ Pine nuts/ Bacon fried oil/ parm cheese/ lemon juice/ a bit of sugar/ salt/ pepper --Possibly basil could have worked here..  but Nasturtium was closer   :)

 

Bread croutons-- made from bread from Fresh Thyme  ( Daves Power seed bread )

 

48532566027_316f91b729_o.thumb.jpg.78fcbba94ab7930590e21d23bbf8c294.jpg

 

 

 

My gosh that is one delicious corn dish.

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I remembered I had made a dish of creamed corn with grilled sweet corn somewhere on eGullet.  So a search through the archives found this recipe I made in 2007, and I'll make again in the coming days.

 

My opening comments back then say it all as far as my taste, or lack thereof, for traditional creamed corn-

"I'd probably say that canned cream corn was on my 'top three list of most hated foods' when I was a kid. The other two were canned peas and my Mother's stuffed green peppers.

I still don't like canned creamed corn, but homemade creamed corn is wonderful. You can either smoke the corn on the cob like I do or just cut it straight off the cob without smoking it. Right now our corn is very sweet in the Northwest so I think I'll make some creamed corn myself next weekend."

 

Smoked Creamed Corn

2 large ears sweet yellow corn

3 slices smoked bacon

1 cup heavy cream

¾ cup grated white cheddar cheese

1 tbsp. chopped fresh lemon thyme

1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the fire in the outdoor grill. When the coals are white hot, place the rack over the fire. Place the whole ears of corn on the rack. Note-Do not remove the husks from the corn prior to grilling.

Place the lid on top of the grill and let the corn roast and smoke for about 20 minutes. The husks will turn black and look charred. This is normal. Some of the kernels of corn will also get charred.

Remove the corn from the grill and let it cool to room temperature.

Remove the husks and silk from the ears of corn. Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels of corn off the ear.

Cut the slices of bacon into small dice. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon pieces until golden brown and crispy. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn, bacon, cream, cheese, lemon thyme, sage, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste.

When the creamed corn begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and keep the it warm until service. If the corn becomes too thick, add additional cream or water.

 

The recipe is a great base for all sorts of dishes like corn pudding.  This is how I used it in a seafood corn chowder.

"Then a Creamed Corn and Oyster Chowder with Sauteed Dungeness Crab. I took the basic creamed corn recipe and added fish stock, clams, diced new potatoes and some Cajun seafood seasoning."

The photo needs some work today, but I'll be re-working this dish.  The seafood elements--I think the grilled sweet corn recipe is good as is.

Creamed Corn Seafood Chowder.jpg

 

 

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On 8/13/2019 at 8:15 AM, David Ross said:

Another question-do you slather ears of sweet corn in butter?  Salted or unsalted?  I'm searching for a photo of grilled sweet corn that I brushed with harissa.  The August issue of Bon Appetit recommends harissa-mint, lemon-herb, parmesan and even a miso-sesame butter.  What do you like on sweet corn on the cob?

 

Mostly I'm partial to the simplest thing: good butter and sea salt. But I also like Mexican street style, with some combo of crema, mayo, chile, lime, cilantro and cotija cheese. But recently I tried a new slather called Buffalo Corn. It involved melting butter to barely brown it, adding a dash of hot sauce, and then stirring in a bit of blue cheese until it melts, brushed on the corn and sprinkled with a little sea salt. I've now seen several recipes for "Buffalo style" and most of them are heavy handed, with an absurd amount of Frank's hot sauce and too much blue cheese as well. I prefer it very subtle, so I can taste my fresh corn. I used Crystal hot sauce and a small crumble of Stilton, both of which were on hand. More than one recipe called for equal amounts of butter and hot sauce--like a cup of each! Okay if you are feeding a small town that has blown out their taste buds because they have nothing better to do than put on  chile-eating contests.

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