Thursday, April 26, 2007

Creamed Corn

It's still way too soon for local corn, but I saw some pretty good looking ears from Florida in the grocery store yesterday and bought them. And, I think I have determined once and for all that "creaming" corn is my favorite way to prepare it.

For years creamed corn conjured up images to me of that sickly-sweet Green Giant stuff. I always steamed my corn still on the cob. But gnawing at a cob slick with butter is pretty messy, and you invariably get several pieces of kernel hull stuck in your teeth. Creaming the corn lets you avoid all that fuss and focus on the pure corn flavor.

First, before cooking, you remove the kernels from the cob. To do so, husk the corn and remove the silk, then get a large shallow bowl. Stand a cob upright in the bowl and slice downward with a sharp knife the cut off the kernels. Don't worry about the size of the slice--a smaller slice of only a couple of rows of kernels at a time, turning the cob as you go, will give the best results.

The key step comes once you have cut off all the kernels: use the back side of the knife to scrape the remaining "milk" from the cob into the bowl. This is the part that is going to give you that great sweet corn flavor. (Good pictures of the slicing and scraping technique can be found here and here.)

Once you have removed all the kernels and milk, pour them into a sauce pan and add about half a tablespoon of butter per ear (I usually do four ears with 2 Tbsp of butter) along with a little salt. And that's it: no water or other ingredients required. Put the pan on the stove over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is all melted and the corn has been heated consistently through--just three or four minutes. Serve immediately or place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting to just keep it warm.

I've seen recipes that call for a lot of additional ingredients, like onions or spices, but they just aren't needed. And, you don't even need cream. If the corn is good and fresh, it will be so sweet and creamy that it will be almost like eating dessert. I always make extra, since it keeps and reheats well.
Bring on the summertime crop!

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