Surprisingly, not everyone always wants to eat fresh corn on the cob, gnawing through rows, getting stuck in their teeth, risking buttery cheeks. They also don’t always want to eat corn on the cob from an open box or frozen package.
Personally, I love the too-short seasonal treat of fresh corn picked from my garden moments before it’s steamed or stewed, buttered, salted and bitten row by row. I’m growing up enough to make sure we eat it on the cob until we get tired of it. Then I freeze it and make corn relish, and cook it in different ways on the cob.
Brown butter corn
Our friend Cris said, “Cook it in brown butter. I avoided the brown butter because too often it turns into black butter before I know it. (Apparently adding a little olive oil can keep it on the brown side.) As a cooking technique, brown butter is handy to have because you can enhance all kinds of dishes with it. My problem with browning butter was that I tend to be oblivious because I’m trying to do other things at the same time. I watched the other night as he browned half a stick over a moderate flame. It foams, sizzles the humidity, gradually turns golden, then brown. It actually took a very short time.
At that time, we dumped the cut corn from four cobs. Lightly salty, the corn cooked quickly, in a matter of seconds really, 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 sufficient. You can use more, if you want, but don’t even think about trying this with margarine. It doesn’t work very well with non-stick pans. If you have cast iron, use it. Make sure the pan is small enough to allow the butter to collect; it will burn if it is spread thin.
Another corn on the cob is cream corn. Homemade creamy corn is a very different treat than the gooey stuff you get from a can. There is more of pure corn flavor, with a richness of cream. Cut it on the cob, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, cook the corn in the butter until it turns bright yellow, then drizzle with all-purpose cream. You don’t need to cover the kernels with cream, but you do need enough to simmer the corn. Keep the heat low and simmer the corn for at least five minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
Like brown butter corn, it’s a good way to make one or two servings or a dozen. One ear per person.
Another of our favorite corn on the cob preparations is the old fashioned corn oysters, so named, I guess, because the little corn cakes look like fried oysters. Old cookbooks often mention them – simply corn cut on the cob with beaten egg and flour, then fried in toothed balls until golden brown.
Lots of old recipes called for grating corn, but I hate doing this because it’s splashing all over the place and my glasses are stained with corn milk. I just cut it in two passes along the cob, one halfway through the kernels and then another pass to get the rest. The old recipes called for cream with the egg and flour, but I leave it out and use almost a third of a cup of flour. At the table, members of my household add condiments to taste: one needs ketchup, another likes Buffalo sauce, and I like cocktail sauce.
Since I freeze cooked and raw corn, I can easily turn my stored corn into a nice dish, even in January. It won’t be as transcendent as it was in September, but I will taste some hints of our fading summer.
For 4 people
2 cups of grains, cut on the cob
1 beaten egg
¼ cup cream or milk (optional)
½ cup of flour
Salt and pepper
Mix corn, egg and milk until blended.
Gradually incorporate the flour and mix.
Generously oil a hotplate and place spoonfuls of corn dough on it.
Cook until golden on one side, then flip and repeat.
Place the cooked corn oysters on paper towels to drain them. Keep warm until serving.