Corn Call

August 18, 2009

One of the joys of summer is waiting for the local corn crop to come in.

This year, the wait has been exceptionally long due to the weather. Corn is usually high by mid-August, but this year it is a pale imitation of itself. Stunted stalks are a common sight, and farmers have all but given up on their yields.

But, a summer without corn and melted butter would be downright un-American! How could a lobster bake take place without corn on the cob? How could a barbecue be any fun at all without corn on the cob?

Corn is what America was built on. Most folks I know like their corn straight up, steamed or boiled, then lathered with melted butter and anointed with salt. The first crunch says it all.

I like my corn cooked on the grill to give it that nice, smokey taste. All I do is open up the corn husks, remove the silks (the fine, hairy filaments), and sprinkle on a few drops of water. Close up the husks and place directly on a hot grill over indirect heat. Cook about six minutes, three on each side.

The husks will look charred, but that’s part of the fun. Remove them when cool enough to handle and spread the corn with melted butter. Or, do what I do, spread some pesto sauce on the corn! Delicious!

Another method I use when I want to make corn chowder is to shuck the husks and silks and wrap the corn in aluminum foil. Toss it on the grill and cook about six minutes, turning once. Then make the recipe below.

What is your favorite way to cook corn? What do you put on it? Do you save the cobs to make stock for corn chowder?

Roasted Corn Chowder

Makes 2 Quarts

5 ears corn, shucked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound prosciutto di Parma or Canadian bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red sweet bell pepper, diced
2 medium red skin potatoes, cooked, peeled, and diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 cup cooked green beans, cut into thirds
1/4 cup diced parsley
Salt to taste
Grinding black pepper
1 cup non-fat half and half

Make a single layer of corn on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Crimp the ends closed. Place the packet on a preheated grill, and cook the corn for about three minutes before turning the packet over and cooking the other side another three minutes. Use a small knife to poke through the foil into an ear of corn. If tender, remove teh packet carefully and allow to cool. Then cut the kernels off the cob and set them aside.

Place the cobs in a soup pot and cover them with three cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, and cook 20 minutes. Strain and set the broth aside.

Return the soup pot to the flame, and add the olive oil. Over medium heat, saute’ the bacon and onions until both are soft. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic begins to soften. Add the red peppers, potatoes, and zucchini, and stir the ingredients well. Pour two cups of the reserved broth, and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for five minutes. Uncover the pot and pout in the half and half, corn kernels, parsley, and green beans. Mix everything well, and cook gently for three or four minutes. Test for seasoning. Serve hot.

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