There’s something mysterious about a cob of corn in its husk.
At first it feels smooth and compact. You have to tug on those tough papery sheaths to reveal the gold kernels. It’s surprising how hard you have to pull — halfway through, I’m thinking, this prize better be worth it.
And then there are the silky threads barring your way from eating. Silky sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It sounds like clean-washed hair and expensive sheets and the purr of someone’s beloved voice in the dark. Well let me tell you, these silky threads are nothing like those. Those buggers cling to the kernels like a kid to her mama’s leg when she doesn’t want to go to school. (And without any of the endearing cuteness, either.) Sure, you can shred a big fistful of them away from your corn quickly, but the rest nit and pick and sit there without your fingers being able to budge them. This is my least favorite part.
After that’s over, however, there is corn. Sweet, tender corn.
Suddenly, it’s summer.
p.s. I have to tell you this, although it has little to do with the wonder of corn. When we were in our late teens, my brother and Sharon and I used to make these ridiculous little films with a big video camera. One summer, we made up a mock-mystery about the death of the member of a popular band. (She died when someone viciously threw a Jujubees box at her head. Yeah, you get the sense how good these films were.) All I really remember of this film is that the band’s biggest hit was called Hot Buttered Corn!
Sharon and I must have sung that phrase into a shared microphone 28 times until Andy had the shot he wanted. We cracked up most of those takes. And now, whenever I cook corn kernels in brown butter on the stove, adding basil or chives at the end, plus a pinch of sea salt, the entire time I am stirring I am thinking Hot Buttered Corn!
This Week’s Corn Links
- Nicole at Pinch My Salt: Creamed Corn with Bacon and Rosemary
- White on Rice Couple: BBQ Chicken and Corn Pizza
- The FN Dish: Creamed Corn-Off: Battle of the Southern Cooks
- Alison at Food2: Freezing Corn
- Toby at Healthy Eats: Candied Corn and 4 other recipes
- Michelle at Cooking Channel: Browsing Corn Porn
- Judy/Tuscan Diva: Fried Polenta Crostini with Porcini Ragu
- Jennifer of Gilded Fork: Corn: Sweet Versatility (history, uses & recipes from cocktails to cornbread)
- Chef Mark: Gettin’ Corny! (Musings from childhood, tips & fresh-corn recipes)
- Caron of SanDiegoFoodstuff: Chino Corn Risotto with Chanterelles and Burrata
- Caroline at The Wright Recipes: Pickled Corn with Summer Onion and Basil
- Tigress in a Jam: Cream Corn Scones (perfect way to use up left over roasted or boiled corn)
- Alana at Eating from the Ground Up: Corn on the Kabob (invented by her artist husband)
- Cate O’Malley at Sweetnicks: Corn and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps
- Kelly at Just a Taste: Caramel Corn (plus pics of corn in its various popping stages)
- Paige Orloff of The Sister Project: Life-Changing Corn Pancakes
- Tara at Tea and Cookies: Farro Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs
- Food Network UK blog: Talking Corn
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.
Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites.com).
The 2010 Schedule:
- Wednesday, August 4: CORN.
- Wednesday, August 11: HERBS-BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (any one or both/all, your choice).
- Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT.
- Wednesday, August 25: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?
- And then…more, more, more if you want it (potatoes? sweet potatoes? root veggies? winter squash?). You name it.
Join in! It’s corn!
Sweet Corn Risotto
Corn and risotto go together like fuzzy sweaters and foggy mornings, like hot coffee and cold cream, like clean sheets and bare feet. There’s comfort in the softness of the rice, plus the surprise of the warm corn kernels popping against your teeth. Slightly sweet from ripeness, salty and filled with the warmth of garlic and thyme, this risotto makes the mouth happy.
And then it’s gone, quickly.
Don’t be intimidated by the process of making corn stock. It sounds complicated. It’s not. Mostly, you throw husks and cobs into a big pot of water and wait for it to simmer into flavor. This way, you use every part of the corn. This time of year, you don’t want to miss a thing.
5 ears corn
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 large sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups corn kernels (or whatever you have left after slicing them from the cob)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 quart corn stock
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Shucking the corn. Remove the husks and hair from the corncobs, but do not discard the husks. Slice the kernels from the corncobs, but do not discard the cobs.
Making the stock. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn husks, the cobs, and the thyme. Cover with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock.
Starting the risotto. Set a large saucepan over medium heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter. Add the corn kernels to the hot oil and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and release their fragrance, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for 1 minute more.
Coating the rice. Toss in the Arborio rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the grains are entirely coated, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook, pushing the rice slowly in the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half its volume, about 5 minutes.
Adding the stock. At this point, pour the corn stock into the rice, 1 cup at a time, stirring gently. Stir and stir until the stock is absorbed into the rice. When the liquid is absorbed, but not dry, add more stock. Continue this process until all the stock is absorbed.
(You can use any leftover corn stock for other soups or foods where you need stock.)
Making the risotto creamy. Taste the rice. It should have no crunch to it. Instead, it should be chewy and soft, without being mushy. Taste the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Taste again. Toss in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and the Parmesan cheese. Stir gently until everything is fully incorporated. Place the lid on the saucepan and allow the risotto to sit, covered, for 2 minutes, which will make the risotto beautifully creamy.