By Jo Ann Povia of GardenStateOnAPlate.com
It’s been a glorious year for fresh New Jersey sweet corn. Here are some tips for making the most of the final weeks of the season.
- The best place to purchase corn is at a local farm selling its own crop. Visit http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov for a list of farm stands and farmers markets throughout the county. Our favorites include Kerr’s Kornstand, in Pennington, and Sansone’s Farm in Hopewell. But we recommend you try farms from across the county, they are all deserving of our support.
- Corn is sensitive to heat. Corn stands should provide shelter from the sun and if you will be transporting the corn for any length of time, or keeping it in your car, make sure you pack it in a cooler.
- Choose corn that has fresh green husks and moist silk. Pull back the husk to check for plump kernels. If you are buying in a store, do not shuck the corn (no matter how convenient the garbage bin next to the display may appear). The husks protect flavor.
- Corn is best eaten the day it is purchased. If not, store it tightly wrapped in an air-tight container. Corn freezes well. Blanch whole ears for five minutes, before storing in heavy freezer bags.
- Corn can be cooked several ways, with or without the husks. Our favorite grill method is to simply pull back the husks and tie them to create handles, remove the silk, and lay them on a hot grill. Turn the ears frequently until the ears develop a nice char.
- If cooking indoors, corn can be steamed. Bring a pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom to a brisk boil, place corn in a steam basket and steam for 4-6 minutes.
Corn is extremely versatile. For something different from the standard corn-on-the-cob method of eating corn, try adding corn to salsas or summer soups, mix grilled corn to quinoa and squash, or use it as a topping for salad. Below are two recipes that benefit from the use of fresh corn.
Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)
Adapted by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, founder of seriouseats.com
I don’t know how I spent decades consuming fresh corn before being introduced to the wonders of Mexican Street corn. I have to admit, that I prefer to eat the best corn, at the height of the season, without even the usual additions of butter and salt. So when I first heard about this dish I was not enthused. But if you’re a purist like me, don’t let the ingredients dissuade you. This is a delicious summer indulgence.
One of the keys to this dish is to use corn cooked directly on a hot grill. The caramelized kernels proved by the char is an essential part of the final blend of sweet and savory flavors. If you can’t find cotija cheese, Italian ricotta salada or Greek feta are excellent substitutes.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
- 1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija cheese or ricotta salada (our preference)
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
- 4 ears grilled corn
- 1 -2 limes, cut into wedges (for diners to add a squeeze of lime juice just prior to eating)
Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic and cilantro in medium bowl.
Place grilled corn on a platter and smother with the mixture. Serve with lime wedges.
Adapted from David Lebovitz Davidlebovitz.com, who had adapted original recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters
I like my corn cakes on the sweet side, served with butter and real Vermont maple syrup. If you prefer a more savory version, reduce the honey and add fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme or cilantro. These cakes pair well with sausage or bacon for breakfast, served with sour cream or alongside a summer salad of Jersey tomatoes and mixed greens.
They also make a great, gluten free alternative to pancakes. (Make sure that your corn flour is certified as manufactured in a gluten free environment.)
Makes 12- 16 corn cakes
- 1 1/2 cups corn flour (available in large markets, specialty stores and health food stores)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed (plus more for frying)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 -3 large ears of fresh corn, enough for 2 ½ cups of corn
- 3 large eggs, separated (you will have one extra yoke)
- Heat the butter, milk and honey, in a small sauce pan until butter is melted. Set aside until tepid.
- Combine the corn flour, baking powder, salt and chili powder in a large bowl. Create a well in the center, and stir in the melted butter and milk mixture, stir in the milk mixture, 2 egg yolks and the corn.
- Beat the 3 egg whites in a mixer until stiff, and then fold into the corn mixture.
- Heat some butter in a skillet. Use a large spoon, ladle or scoop to place mounds of batter carefully into the pan. Space appropriately. They will spread slightly depending on the thickness of your batter. Press slightly with spatula if necessary.
- The cakes should cook on one side until they brown on the bottom and edges bubble. Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned – about a minute.
- Serve immediately, or place cooked corn cakes in a sheet pan kept in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.