Lend me an Ear
by Chrysa Smith
About this time of year, I’m reminded of my great uncle from Poland. A big round man with a long, stinky cigar, enormously wide tie and heavy slavic accent, he would never eat corn. “Eh, that’s for cattle!” he’d say, as the dish passed to the next person.
Veggies in a can may not be haute cuisine, but, at the height of growing season, I do think Uncle Zig missed a great American culinary treat. You can lend me a fresh picked ear anytime.
Right now, local corn is making its debut at local markets and even in my little vegetable patch. So, if only for the next month, I like to put away the potatoes, rice or bread and feature this short-season starch on my dinner plate.
The ears must be a bit plump looking–with the husks looking a little like a too-tight blouse
The husks must be green and maybe even a bit moist-looking. Stay clear of those that are dry or brown—they’re too old
I like mine boiled for about 15 minutes, brushed with a little melted butter and salt. When I have leftover ears, I’ll cut off the kernels and make a nice summer salsa (remember the post on summer salsas? Hmm? Try it with corn, red pepper, red onion, cucumber, cilantro and the lemon or lime/oil mixture)or use them for a corn casserole; this one from Paula Deen, Queen of Southern cooking and a master at slipping an extra stick of butter into recipes, without the slightest guilt–http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/corn-casserole-recipe/index.html
But to mix it up, I’m going to play a bit more on the grill this year. The expert advice is to soak the ears in water for about 15 minutes, let them dry, pull off a few layers of husks, pull back the remaining husks just a bit and brush with a little oil. Here you can add flavor: some cilantro, garlic or even nutmeg for a different kick. Then rewrap the husks and let ‘er rip on the grill. When the ear is properly grill-marked, I’ll turn off the heat and let them sit on a warm grill for about 15 minutes to make sure they’re cooked through.
I hope to enjoy them with a nice roast turkey (marinated with a little soy, Dijon mustard and orange juice/jam) a nice, light white wine and maybe even a short toast to a robust man–a man with a taste for tobacco, but sadly, no ear for corn.