Ears of sweet summer corn require little embellishment to be fully enjoyed, but for a change of pace try this refreshing version of a traditional creamed corn dish. Just a little bit of lime zest, lime juice, and cayenne pepper transforms a normally predictable dish into a bright, surprisingly-sophisticated summer side dish.
Produce man Michael Marks gives this advice on selecting and storing fresh corn: When you’re picking your corn, make sure the husk is bright green and looks fresh. If it’s tanned and shriveling, it’s old or heat has gotten to it. Feel the top end. Fully mature ears of corn will have a rounded top. If the top feels pointy, it’s likely immature. Then pull down the husk and take a peek. There should be no cracks between those plump kernels. If you see any dimples in those kernels, step away from the corn. It’s old; the sugars will have turned to starch and it won’t be pleasant to eat. As soon as you get your corn home, refrigerate it and try to enjoy it within a couple of days.
Creamed Summer Corn
Torie Ritchie’s adaptation of a recipe from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
6 ears white or yellow corn, shucked
1 large lime
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1. With a chef’s knife, cut down each ear of corn to remove kernels. Place kernels in a bowl. (To remove excess silk see note below.)
2. Holding one cob over the bowl at a time, use the back of a knife or a spoon to scrape any remaining corn and “milk” (corn juices) from the cob into the bowl. Repeat with remaining cobs.
3. Grate the zest from the lime onto a small plate and set aside. Cut lime in half. Juice lime into a ramekin and have a tablespoon measure handy.
4. Melt the butter in a large fry pan over medium heat. Add corn kernels and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook the corn, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the corn starts to sizzle, about 12 minutes.
6. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cream, cayenne and lime zest. and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to medium and simmer until cream is thickened and almost absorbed, 6-8 minutes.
7. Taste and add more lime juice, salt, or cayenne as desired and stir in remaining cream for a creamier texture, if desired.
8. Remove from heat, stir in chives and serve.
Serves 4 to 6
1. The easiest way to cut kernels off a corn cob is to stick the stem end into the hole of a Bundt pan. Holding the cob carefully, run your knife down the cob to remove the kernels. As you cut off the kernels, they will fall into the Bundt pan.
2. Here is Torie Ritchie’s note on removing corn silk: To remove any last bits of silk from the corn kernels in the bowl, set another bowl of water next to it. Swish your hands through the corn kernels in a circular motion to let your fingers pick up most of the remaining silk strands. Rinse your hands in the water bowl as you work to remove the silks. Repeat this a couple of times. I tried her technique and it worked for the most part — I still had to pick out a few strands of silk.
3. At step #7, I added a tiny bit more cayenne and the rest of the lime juice.
4. I keep an 8-ounce box of shelf stable whipping cream from Trader Joe’s in my pantry for convenience. No last minute dash out to the market to purchase whipping cream for me!
5. This recipe would go well with any tropical-type menu.