Ear, ear: There's no better taste than fresh corn on the cob

swthompson@herald-leader.comJuly 10, 2013 

To save some prep time, grill corn on the cob in its husk. Of course, each ear still has to be peeled, but the tantalizing aroma is highly motivating.

July's abundant crop of sweet corn is delayed a bit in some areas because of the wet spring, but don't let that stop you from enjoying fresh corn on the cob.

Always best when it's grown by a local farmer and bought to market soon after it's picked, much of Central Kentucky's corn got a little waterlogged.

"Growers have been hampered this spring by the wet soils and rain, which delayed planting," said John Strang, University of Kentucky horticulturalist, adding that rain also responsible was for weed problems and low nitrogen levels because herbicides and nitrogen were leached out of the ground.

Some corn has arrived at farmers markets — keep watch at the markets near you — and Evans Orchard, 180 Stone Road, Georgetown, will celebrate the beloved vegetable's summer arrival with its Sweet Corn Festival from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 20.

If you're looking for new recipes for fresh corn, drop by the Williams-Sonoma store at Fayette Mall at 11 a.m. July 28. The class on cooking fresh vegetables from farmers markets will include recipes for corn.

There are lots of good recipes for preparing fresh corn. One of the best is grilling corn on the cob in its husk. Simply throw the ears on the grill in one layer and cover. The corn steams in its husk and picks up a mild smokiness from the grill. Grilled corn with chili-cilantro butter

12 ears corn, with husks

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup finely chopped cilantro

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat grill. Place corn ears in their husks over low-burning coals (or over low heat on a gas grill) and cover the grill. Cook corn, turning occasionally, until it is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer corn (still in husks) to a serving platter.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until it is melted. Stir in chili powder and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and chili powder is fragrant, less than 1 minute. Transfer chili powder mixture to a food processor, then add honey, cilantro, remaining 6 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Transfer chili-cilantro butter to a bowl and serve with corn. Makes 12 servings.

From The Farm by Ian Knauer

Corn relish

4 ears corn

2 bell peppers, green or red, seeded and diced

2 celery stalks, finely sliced

1 red chile, seeded and sliced

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 cups white wine vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons mustard powder

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Strip kernels from corn cobs using a sharp knife. Blanch them in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain well. Put corn and other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir. Simmer gently, stirring, for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning, then spoon into warmed sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch head space. The relish should be a spoonable consistency and wetter than a chutney. Cover, seal with non-metallic or vinegar-proof lids, and heat-process for 5 minutes, then label. Once opened, store jars in refrigerator. Makes 2 large jars.

From Vegetables Please by Carolyn Humphries

This is a classic recipe for corn pudding, but adding buttermilk instead of milk makes a short of cheesy curd that clings to the corn kernels in the finished dish. The smoky, slightly sweet flavor of ancho chile powder is perfect with corn.

Spicy summer corn pudding

10 ears corn

4 eggs

1½ cups buttermilk

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

1½ teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Cut kernels off corn and place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Pour into prepared dish and bake 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook by Diane St. Clair

Grilled corn, poblano and black bean salad

2 ears shucked corn

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 green onions

1 avocado, peeled, halved, and pitted

1 large red bell pepper

1 large poblano chile

Cooking spray

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 can (15 ounces) unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat grill to high heat. Brush corn with 2 teaspoons oil. Place green onions, avocado, bell pepper, poblano and corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill onions 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Grill avocado 2 minutes on each side or until well marked. Grill bell pepper 6 minutes on each side or until blackened; peel. Grill corn 12 minutes or until beginning to brown on all sides, turning occasionally.

Cut kernels from ears of corn; place in large bowl. Chop onions, bell pepper and poblano; add to bowl. Add 4 teaspoons oil, cilantro and next 5 ingredients; toss well. Cut avocado into thin slices; place on top of salad. Makes 6 servings.

From Cooking Light Pick Fresh Cookbook

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com

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