Thursday, September 08, 2011

Corn!



It’s that time of year, time for sweet corn. You know, knee high by the Fourth of July and all that. If you aren’t from a corn-growing state, you might not be familiar with that general rule of thumb that suggests planted corn should be knee high by early July.
Ohio had an excessively wet spring this year, so corn growers were late in planting their fields; and in May, they were nervously calculating the millions of dollars they might be losing this season with each passing week. In early June, they were finally granted weather grace, and they scrambled to plant corn.
I can see a corn field from my living room window, and I remember watching the farmer of that field planting at night by the light of his plow’s headlamps. This is the same field where goose hunters gather in the winter to shoot geese. Early on Sunday mornings, I can hear gunshots, and I know to look out and watch for their honking targets to fall from the sky. This field offers me a seasonal view of nature in action.
Anyway, corn is plentiful now, although I have no idea how much the farmers lost this season, if anything. And sweet corn, in particular, is pretty tasty. I have been buying it a few ears at a time because Husband and I don’t eat more than three ears or so per meal, and I don't can or freeze anything for winter. When I shuck the corn, I remember how my mother taught me to rip the husks and twist off the silks with minimal motion. And I remember how my father scolded me for making a mess. “Why don’t you work over the newspaper?!” he’d whine because I scattered debris all over the kitchen counter. He said this when I pealed potatoes, too.
I also remember my mother’s fried corn, which is really more like sautéed corn, but in old-school Southern cooking, everything is fried, and if it isn’t, you called it fried. There is no written recipe for this technique of cooking corn—it goes like this: stand a clean ear of corn in a deep bowl and slice off a layer of kernels, rotating the ear as you work around it and avoiding getting too close to the cob. You don't want whole kernels here. Go back for another cut and work closer to the cob. Then from bottom to top, scrape the cob with the edge of the knife to release the “milk.” In a skillet, melt a ton of butter. Really, I don’t think you can have too much—I made this for a dinner party the other night, and I used a stick and a half for ten ears of corn. Add all the corn from the bowl and stir in salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Simmer it all over medium to low heat, stirring frequently, for at least 20 minutes until the corn is tender.
After the dinner party, I had a lot of corn left over, so last night, I used it to make sweet corn pudding, modifying a recipe from epicurious.com. It was great—as Husband said, it tasted just like candy. Here’s how it goes:
4 cups leftover sauteed corn (or frozen corn, but yuck)
4 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients but the corn, then stir in the corn. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Bake pudding until brown and center is just set, about 45 minutes.

2 comments:

Shan said...

So delicious!!!!!!! I always want to eat when you are cooking.

dive said...

Boy howdy, Robyn; I nearly had a heart attack just LOOKING at it!
Yummy!