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How To Cook Corn for a Mouthwatering Side Dish

From street food to desserts, corn is equally delicious in both savory and sweet recipes. Corn is also extremely diverse and great cooked in a variety of ways. Now with summer fast approaching, corn season is entering its peak and a perfect time to try some mouthwatering recipes.

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Selecting and Preparing Corn

Whenever possible, get fresh corn from the local farmers market rather than the supermarket. Corn starts to lose its sweetness as soon as its picked. Farmers market vendors will have the best quality local corn, far superior to the supermarket. To select the best corn, look for ears with tightly shut, non-wilted, green husks. Another way to check is to squeeze the ears, focusing on the tips to see if the kernels are plump. A good ear of corn should feel heavy for its size.

Corn is best eaten the day of purchase. But if you’re looking to store corn, leave it unhusked and place it in the refrigerator crisper. Remember, the longer corn stays in the refrigerator, the less flavorful it’ll become. For long-term storage, remove and blanch the kernels in boiling water before chilling them in ice water and freezing.

Cooking and Seasoning

For an easy and tasty corn preparation, place corn in boiling water and cook until tender, about ten minutes. This preparation of corn is a delicious side dish that goes equally well with entrees ranging from Southern style fried chicken to barbecue ribs.

Corn is also perfect on the grill. The charred flavor of properly grilled corn goes seamlessly with its natural sweetness. Corn can be grilled in the husk or directly over the fire. When grilled in the husk, the corn will steam, making it more tender. But for that classic char-grilled flavor of summertime, grill the corn directly over the flames until lightly charred on all sides. Then, take the corn off the fire and cook over indirect heat until tender.

Corn can be a blank canvas for flavor — it’s great with savory, creamy, and spicy flavors. For spice, try seasoning corn with chili powder, hot sauce, or even Chinese chili oil for a sweet and spicy combination. Finally, corn is amazing in soup or stews. Corn cobs can be sliced into smaller sections and stewed with meat and other root vegetables for a filling and rich meal.

Home Appétit’s Summer Corn and Chickpea Chowder 

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(By Chef Lee Wallach, founder of Philadelphia-based meal delivery service, Home Appétit)
Philadelphia-based chef Lee Wallach founded Home Appétit in 2014 after his personal chef client list outgrew his one-person operation. Cooking out of a friend’s restaurant, he created a scalable delivery meal program that doesn’t sacrifice taste, health, or convenience. His global menus — which lean heavily on locally sourced ingredients — are inspired by his time as a chef in Napa, Miami, and New York. Now, Home Appétit operates out of its own commercial kitchen, has over 25 cooks, drivers, and employees, and delivers thousands of dishes in the Philadelphia metro area.
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic, plus 5 whole garlic cloves (skin on) for roasting
  • 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn (cut from about 2 ears of corn)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh turmeric root or 1 tbsp dried turmeric
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Grilled Shrimp (optional)
  • Basil (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place whole garlic cloves and olive oil in foil, wrap to close, and roast until soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat neutral oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Sauté onions, raw garlic, and bay leaf until onions are translucent.
  3. Add corn and cook for five minutes. Add turmeric and cook a few minutes until toasted and fragrant.
  4. Add vegetable stock, stirring up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add heavy cream and chickpeas. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the corn is soft and cooked well. The chickpeas should be very soft.
  6. Add 1 tbsp of the roasted garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Blend ingredients using an immersion or regular blender. You can pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve if you prefer a finer consistency.
  7. Top with herbs and grilled shrimp and serve. You can also make 2-3 days in advance; when reheating you might need to add 2-3 tbsp of water and adjust the seasoning.

Street Corn

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(By Executive Chef Rich Hinojosa of CRUjiente Tacos)

Chef Rich Hinojosa is the co-founder and executive chef of CRUjiente Tacos, a modern take on tacos and Latin-inspired cuisine in Phoenix, Arizona. Each dish is handcrafted with global influences, technique-driven presentation, and well-sourced ingredients. Cruijiente Tacos has been featured in Food Network, Forbes, Eater, and Thrillist.

Ingredients:

For corn:

  • 3 ears of fresh sweet corn, husked
  • 1/2 of a large white onion
  • 2 jalapenos, cut in half
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chili powder (rancho de chimayo is preferred)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp  cumin
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt

For Flavored Butter:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tbsp diced tomatillos
  • 2 tbsp grated cotija cheese
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro

Method:

  1. In a large pot, add the corn ears, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro then cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let the corn simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the liquid and let cool.
  3. Mix the dry spices together.
  4. When the corn is cool enough to handle, season the corn with the spice mix and salt. Rub it in very well.
  5. On a hot grill, char the corn all over then remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  6. Carefully cut the corn from the cobs and set the corn aside.
  7. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter, add the onion and sauté briefly, add the corn, let this cook for 1 minute, then add 1 tbsp of the hot sauce, lime juice, the tomatillos and let cook for another minute, deglaze the pan with 2 oz of water.
  8. Pour the contents into a serving bowl, top with cheese, the other tbsp of hot sauce, the mayo, and the chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

Read more: Best Brunch Recipes

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Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
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