Monday, August 13, 2007

Sweet Corn

This past weekend I went to visit my Grandmother and had some of the most incredible sweet corn I have ever tasted. It was grown by a local farmer and called Triple Sweet, was it ever! It was so fresh tasting, the kernels popped as you bit into the cob. I have been working with a local doctor who specializes in holistic medicine, concentrating on eating foods that our bodies were meant to digest. So I know corn is a food we eat but our bodies were not made to handle. I could give up corn the rest of the year, but in the summer, when sweet corn is ripe and you can stop and pick it up at a local farmer's stand, now that is something I do not think I could give up. For those of you who only buy corn on the cob at the market, I urge you to find a local farmer selling it (you can drive out of town a bit and find a road side stand on just about any country road) or stop by one of the local farmer's markets and pick some up there.

I do not mean to say that corn has no nutritional value. As with all vegetables, it is low in calories, sodium and fat (1 ear = 75 calories + 13 milligrams sodium + 1 gram fat) and does contain important vitamins and minerals – beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C. It is a good source of fiber (2 grams per ear).

To cook sweet corn, you can boil it or grill it.

To boil it: Bring to boil a large pot of salted water. Place the cobs in the water, with the husks and silks already removed. A tip my mother taught me, when the pot begins to smell like sweet corn, you know they are ready. This usually takes about 10 minutes. Try it out and you can easily see what I mean. When you first put the corn in, there really is no smell to the pot. But after 10 minutes or so, the pot smells just like the corn is going to taste and you know that it is ready.

To grill it: Peel back the husks, leaving them attached to the cob and remove the silks from the ears. Reposition the husks back over the cobs. If there are a lot of layers of husks, you can remove the top few, but you want to make sure the corn is completely covered by the husks. Soak the ears in water for at least 15 minutes. Make sure they are completely submerged. I find it best if the ears soak for about 1 hour. While the ears are soaking, light the grill. You will want a medium heat for the corn. Shake the excess water off the corn and grill for about 30 minutes. I like to char them first over medium heat on each side, then remove the heat from half the grill and place them on the cool side – you are essentially steaming the cobs.

Of course I love it with butter. I know that I am negating any nutritional value with fat, but mmm it is so good! For a fun alternative, you can make a compote butter to add to the corn. Let a stick of butter come to room temperature, then add fresh herbs and spices, blend them together, then shape it back into a log with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to harden back up. Then you can slice it into delicious, mouthwatering pats.

For corn, try adding 2 – 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 – 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil and a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Or mince 1 fresh jalepano, seeds and membranes removed (or use 1 – 2 teaspoons chili powder), 2 minced green onions and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Or finally, try adding 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 2 tablespoons curry powder and 1 clove minced garlic. You can really use any combination, so use your imagination.
Bon App├ętit!

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