Amazingly, not everyone wants to eat fresh corn on the cob, gnaw at the rows, stick it in their teeth, risk baking butter. You also don’t want to always eat corn on the cob from an opened can or frozen package.
Personally, I love the all-too-brief seasonal consumption of fresh corn, which is picked from my garden just before steaming or simmering, buttering, salting and biting off. I grow enough to make sure we eat it off the shelf until we’re sick of it. Then I freeze something and make corn relish and cook it from the cob in different ways.
Corn in brown butter
Our friend Cris said, “Bring something in brown butter.” I shied away from brown butter because too often it turns into black butter before I know it. (Apparently adding a little olive oil can keep the brown side.) As a cooking technique, browning butter comes in handy as it can be used to add flavor to all kinds of dishes. My problem with browning butter was that I tend to be under-careful trying to do other things at the same time. I watched him tan half a stick over a moderate flame the other night. It foamed up, hissed out the moisture, gradually turned golden, then brown. It actually took very little time.
At this point we threw in the corn that was cut by four cobs. Lightly salted, the corn cooked quickly, in a few moments, and tasted so good. The leftover corn – not much – was made into pancakes the next morning.
We observed a proportion of one tablespoon of butter per ear of corn, perfectly adequate. You could use more if you wanted, but don’t even think about trying margarine. This doesn’t work very well with nonstick pans. If you have cast iron, use this one. Make sure the pan is small enough for the butter to collect; it will scorch if spread thinly.
Another corn from the cob is creamed corn. Homemade creamed corn is a whole different treat than the sticky stuff you get out of a can. There is more pure corn flavor with rich cream. Cut it off the plunger, melt some butter in a heavy skillet, cook the corn in the butter until it turns light yellow, then drizzle with some all-purpose cream. You don’t need to cover the kernels with the cream, but you will need enough to simmer the corn in it. Keep the heat low and simmer the corn for at least five minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
As with brown butter corn, this is a great way to make a serving or two, or a dozen. One flask per person.
Another of our favorite concoctions for corn on the cob is the old-fashioned corn oysters, which I suspect because small corn patties look like fried oysters. Old cookbooks often mention them – only omit corn on the cob with egg and flour, then fried in delicious blobs until golden brown.
A lot of the old recipes called for the corn to be grated, but I hate it because it splatters all over the place and my glasses get stained with corn milk. I just cut it down the butt with two strokes, half a way through the cores, then another pass to get the rest of it. Old recipes called for cream with egg and flour, but I leave them out and use about a third of a cup of flour. At the table, members of my household add spices as they please: one needs ketchup, the other likes buffalo sauce, and I like cocktail sauce.
Since I freeze corn both cooked and raw, I can easily turn my stored corn into a delicious dish even in January. It won’t be as transcendent as September, but I’ll taste hints of our summer now fading.
2 cups of grains cut from the flask
1 egg beaten
Â¼ cup cream or milk (optional)
Â½ cup of flour
salt and pepper
Mix the corn, egg and milk well.
Gradually stir in the flour and stir.
Oil a frying pan generously and place a spoonful of cornmeal on top.
Bake until golden brown on one side, then turn and repeat.
Place the cooked corn oysters on kitchen paper to drain. Keep warm until serving.