Summer sweet corn: Try 3 fresh recipes
Sweet corn is one of the surest signs of summer.
And the crop at Coats Ranch in Central Point has been reassuring, following the closure of nearby Seven Oaks Farm and Beebe’s Farmstand within the past two years. I breathed a sigh of relief last month when Coats Ranch announced its first corn harvest, along with peaches and other farm-fresh produce.
It wouldn’t be summer, after all, without locally grown peaches for cobbler and fresh corn on the cob. After wiggly front teeth diminished my kids’ enthusiasm for the latter last summer, they have come around to this quintessential seasonal treat.
Making corn easier to eat last summer, I turned to skillet dishes with whatever produce — namely tomatoes, zucchini and peppers — and herbs were close at hand. Including bacon or sausage tempted my carnivorous older son.
By any name, skillet corn, succotash or maque choux is an easy, flavorful but healthful side to grilled foods. Or serve it over lettuce leaves for a lighter meal, topped with sautéed shrimp or scallops, chunks of tofu or tempeh or feta or halloumi cheese.
Start by slicing away corn cobs’ kernels by standing each cob up in a large bowl and holding it at the top with one hand. Starting at the top, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob, working your way down. Turn the cob and continue cutting until the cob is clean.
Then render some sliced bacon in a cast-iron skillet, allowing it to crisp; scoop it from the pan with a slotted spoon when it’s done. Leave enough fat in the pan to completely coat the amount of corn you’re preparing. Skimping here risks a dish that earns mealtime acceptance versus rave reviews
For example, I recently cooked 12 ounces of bacon for kernels from seven ears of corn, plus half a sweet onion, two medium zucchini and a half pound of snap peas. The quantity of fat in the pan as the onion and zucchini cooked looked like it would pool in the bottom of my serving dish, but once I added the corn, it miraculously absorbed and conveyed all that fat, as well as wowed my diners.
The inclusion of snap peas, versus succotash’s more traditional beans, proves the dish isn’t a recipe as much as a method. Nudge it away from its American origins — first Native, then Colonial — with some Asian influences, including edamame and cabbage suggested in the following recipe. Make it dairy free with a couple of tablespoons of miso paste; sprinkle on some togarashi seasoning in place of paprika and cumin.
Chile-lime seasoning, such as Tajin, is delicious sprinkled over skillet corn but makes a surprisingly sour-salty garnish over sweet corn ice cream. This rich version tastes like buttery cornbread topped with maple syrup. Infusing its heavy cream with flavor from the corncobs stripped of their kernels is a thrifty move that extends local corn from one dish to the next.
A flavor you’re unlikely to find in grocers’ freezer cases, sweet corn ice cream is popular in Mexico, where I first tasted it while vacationing on the Baja Peninsula. A bucket list project with my kids, the recipe is crafted for a home ice cream maker — just be sure to thoroughly chill the dairy base (up to two days) and don’t skip straining it through a fine-mesh sieve, which removes the kernels’ skins.
Coats Ranch is at 3371 Willow Springs Road. See Facebook for hours and harvest updates.
Reach features editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bacon, Basil and Tomato Skillet Corn
4 thick slices (8 ounces total) smoky bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 shallots or 1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
3 cups fresh or grilled corn kernels
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, halved or 2 to 3 cups large chunks ripe tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup loosely packed, thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, about 1 1/4 ounces
In a large, well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the sliced bacon, stirring often, until bacon is crisp and golden, for about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate. Tip off (and save for another use) all but 2 tablespoons rendered fat from pan.
Add the shallots or onion and the poblano to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until soft, for about 4 minutes.
Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, then stir in the halved cherry tomatoes. Cook until everything is very hot, for about 2 minutes.
Season with the salt and pepper, or to taste. Remove from heat and stir in crisp bacon. Fold in the sliced basil. Serve right away.
Makes 4 cups (about 6 servings).
Warm Grilled Corn and Edamame Succotash Salad
2 ears corn on the cob, shucked and rinsed
1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced crosswise into 3 sections
2 thick wedges Napa or green cabbage, about 6 ounces total
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame or lima beans
2 small limes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese or 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives or scallion tops
Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill until medium hot.
Put the ears of corn, onion sections and cabbage wedges on a baking sheet. Drizzle all sides with some oil and sprinkle with salt. Place vegetables directly on grill over heat. Grill, occasionally turning until nicely golden on all sides, for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool.
Meanwhile, cook the edamame in a small pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, for about 2 minutes. Drain.
Grate rind from the limes into a large bowl. Then squeeze juice from limes into bowl. Stir in the 1/3 cup olive oil, the paprika, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add warm edamame to dressing in a bowl.
Use a sharp knife to remove kernels from corn cobs and add to dressing. Chop grilled onion and cabbage and add to dressing. Mix well. Add the crumbled queso fresco or heavy cream. Serve at room temperature sprinkled with the chives or scallion tops.
Makes 6 cups, serving 6.
Sweet Corn and Maple Ice Cream
3 cups fresh raw corn kernels
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh black raspberries or blackberries, for serving
Chile lime seasoning or Tajin Classic Chile Lime seasoning (optional), for serving
Puree 1 1/2 cups of the corn kernels with 1/2 cup of the whole milk in a blender until very smooth. Transfer to a deep, heavy saucepan. Repeat with remaining 1 1/2 cups corn and 1/2 cup milk.
Stir the heavy whipping cream, sugar, maple syrup and salt into corn mixture. Heat over medium heat until simmering.
Meanwhile, set a large bowl over a larger bowl of ice. Place a mesh sieve in large bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl.
Slowly ladle 1 cup heated corn mixture into egg yolks to heat them gently. Then, whisk egg yolk mixture back into simmering corn mixture and cook on very low heat just until thickened, for 2 or 3 minutes. Do not boil.
Immediately pour mixture through sieve into bowl set over ice. Whisk to cool mixture and stop cooking. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate corn mixture until very cold or up to 2 days.
Pour cold corn mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Scoop into a container. Cover and freeze solid for at least 1 hour.
Serve small scoops of the ice cream topped with berries. If desired, shake a little chili-lime seasoning over ice cream.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts.