Corn in this country has two distinct seasons: sweet corn and tuna sandwich season, which runs from October to July, and the current grilled corn on the cob season, where we choose to rub our gums with something that somehow it’s simultaneously hotter than the sun and almost completely raw. Our lack of experience is perhaps understandable, as the maize family is native to the Americas and gained popularity as a human food in this country relatively recently.
Not for us the myriad celebratory festivals that dot the American Midwest in summer, many culminating in the crowning of a candy corn queen, though I must draw your attention to the Isle of Wight Sweet Corn Fair at late September, which promises visitors a giant sweet corn fritter, nor the many different ways to enjoy it, from chowder to succotash. Perhaps my favourite, however, is this particularly southern version, available year-round in a can but only worth eating fresh in my opinion.
Martha Rose Shulman’s Creamed Corn is freshly shredded. All Felicity miniatures.
Unlike in the Americas, you’re unlikely to have a choice between varieties of corn in the UK, but go for the one that looks the freshest because, once harvested, the sugars in sweetcorn quickly turn into starches. Ideally, buy it still in the shell, or green, as Scott Peacock describes in The Gift of Southern Cooking, the book he co-authored with the great Edna Lewis, noting that: “Southerners eat corn in so many different ways that everyone needs these names, in the same way that the Eskimos have a multitude of words for ‘snow.’ The leaves help keep it cool; they should be green, rather than dry or golden, and the silk threads on top still pale and slightly sticky. Look at the base, where it has been cut; the more discolored it is, the longer it was harvested.
Double or heavy cream only, please, says Gourmet Magazine.
The easiest way to make creamed corn is to remove the kernels from the cob and cook them in a creamy sauce, but that way you lose a lot of the flavor that can be brought out of the cob. Martha Rose Shulman grates her corn, rather than chopping it, thus ensuring as much of the cob as possible is removed, but this gives what a commenter on the New York Times food site describes more as “corn polenta.” fresh” that cream. corn. Very tasty, but texturally a bit unsatisfying.
The lately lamented (at least by me) Gourmet magazine suggests running a knife through the ears to milk them of any remaining juices, while Cook’s Illustrated opts for the best of both worlds, shelling and shredding half the ears and grating the rest, which has the benefit of “releasing the corn’s natural thickener,” as well as giving the dish some of the intense flavor of Shulman’s version. It also eliminates the need to puree some of the cooked corn, like in the Gourmet recipe, since the corn is fibrous enough to make this process a bit of a pain.
Blessedly simple: Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s creamed corn.
Lewis and Peacock’s version is blessedly simple, relying solely on corn for flavor, and would work great as a side dish with strong flavors like stuffed ham or mustard greens. However, if you’re serving your creamed corn with grilled meat or seafood, or as the star of the show, then you might want to accentuate the natural sweetness of the corn with sautéed red onion or shallot, as Shulman and Cook’s Illustrated do, though I don’t think you also need garlic for the latter. The fresh taste of herbs, Gourmet suggests chives, Shuman sage or tarragon, and Jane Baxter and Cook’s Illustrated thyme, which is my favourite, is never unpleasant, while if you fancy a bit of spice, you can also add red thyme from Baxter. chili, always a friend of corn, or Cook’s illustrated cayenne pepper.
Jane Baxter’s Creamed Corn is cooked in wine or broth and water.
For Shulman, whose recipe is intriguingly titled No-Cream Creamed Corn, sautéing the corn in butter suffices, but with no added dairy to dilute the flavor, the results are surprisingly deliciously sweet, rather than soothingly creamy. Baxter, whose version in Riverford Farm’s Everyday & Sunday volume is inspired by Sydney’s Sean Moran, also eschews cream, preferring to cook his corn in wine and stock or water for a more sophisticated result. fish or shellfish. His recipe also has the distinct benefit, unlike others, of containing enough liquid to cook the corn, so while I’ll stick to the Southern tradition and finish the dish with cream, like Baxter, I’ll start with water. .
Cook’s Illustrated uses shallots and thyme to accent its creamed corn.
Due to the starches released by the grated corn (and, let’s be honest, with the best will in the world, unless you grow your own or live near a farm that does, corn bought in this country can often already have quite starchy), there’s no need to thicken the sauce with flour, as in the Lewis and Peacock or Gourmet versions of the dish, especially if, like Gourmet and Cook’s Illustrated, you use double or whipping cream, instead of “half and half”. ”, which, at 12% fat, falls between our whole milk (at least 3.5%) and liquid cream (18%). You don’t need much if you’re not using it to cook the corn, but you’ll reap the benefits with a dish so sweet and luxuriously rich you could almost bathe in it, although I promise you it’s better eaten.
perfect creamy corn
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
It serves 4
4 ears of sweet corn
1 shallot or ½ red onion (optional)
2-3 twigs fresh thyme (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
30-60ml double cream
salt and black pepper
Cut the ears in half crosswise with a heavy knife, then, placing each on its flat end, cut the kernels from half of the corn halves in a bowl. Still holding the shaved ears over the bowl, scrape the back of a knife lengthwise to extract as much liquid as possible.
Grate the corn from the remaining corn halves into the same bowl, again making sure to extract as much liquid as possible from the ears.
Finely chop the shallot or onion, if using, and remove the thyme leaves from their stems.
Melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium-low heat, then add the shallot and thyme, if using, and cook until softened but not coloured.
Add all the corn, stir to coat with the butter, then cook, stirring regularly, for about five minutes.
Stir 200ml of water into the pan and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn kernels are tender and the liquid is thick.
Add the cream (how much you use is up to you), then season to taste and serve hot.
Creamed Corn: How do you like yours and what do you serve it with? And what other ways with corn would you recommend during its short season?