A few summers ago, we hosted my 18 year old french cousin, the daughter of my cousin and thus still my cousin. During her time here, attendance at our public pool saw a steep rise. Reading dog-eared paperback Sartre plays in a beautiful white bikini, she brought the french femme fatale stereotype to life to this Chicago suburb. Many of the dads in town still get this dreamy look in their eyes when they remember the summer we had our french cousin visit.
Her impact on our family was more culinary. She gave us this amazing and very simple french chocolate cake recipe. And she revolutionized the way I prepare corn.
Summertime is corn season. That’s just the way it is. Meal after meal, corn on the cob is offered. Sometimes it lives up to its promise of sweet, juicy kernels. More often than not, summer corn is less memorable: bland, starchy, boring.
The french girl/woman had none of our summer corn nostalgia. Every time I placed the platter of golden corn on the table, she pursed her mouth every so slightly and said, “non merci.” After a few dinners, she explained that corn was just blah. Meh. Pas terrible.
We found other summer sides to vary the offering, but her attitude made me reconsider corn on the cob. The magic was gone. I started dressing it up with mayo and chili powder. Drizzling it with Mexican cheese. Splashing it with lime. And the summer corn got exciting.
Soon I was making all corn this way.
The recipe below is your invitation to push your corn envelope. Corn on the cob can be incredible, but how often do we suffer through average ears in our quest for that first sweet bite that defines summer dinners? By taking your corn kernels off the cob, caramelizing them in the pan, and mixing them with contrasting flavors, you can make your corn a party in your mouth every single time.
Pan caramelizing corn kernels works just as well with kernels you’ve cut off the cob as with frozen corn. Cook it in the pan with a small pat of butter until the corn starts to pop out of the pan and begins to caramelize. My kids like it just like that, with a slight sprinkling of salt. I scoop half into a bowl for them, and doctor up the remaining half for me and my husband. To be honest, he usually opts for the kids’ bowl, but that just leaves more for me. I’ve learned long ago that you can’t change a man.
Favorite toppings include: lemon or lime juice, chili powder, grated Mexican cheese, crumbled blue cheese, diced raw cucumbers and red peppers. Don’t limit yourself to the recipe below. Get creative and report back!
- 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced small
- juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup of crumbled blue cheese
- ½ cucumber, diced small
- ½ tablespoon of butter
- Peel the corn husks and cut the corn kernels off. Alternatively, in the winter, use frozen corn.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the corn and saute for about 5 minutes, until the corn starts to turn light brown on the edges and some kernels begin popping out of the pan.
- Pour the corn into a medium bowl. Toss in the cucumber and red pepper.
- Squeeze the lemon on top. Add the cheese and toss all to mix.
- Serve warm or cold.