Sikes: ‘Lots of tasty ways to serve corn on the cob’

Sikes: ‘Lots of tasty ways to serve corn on the cob’

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Guess what? June 11 is National Corn on the Cob Day.

As we have seen before, there are lots of national days. So many it would take several years to celebrate them all individually. It seems to me that corn on the cob is deserving of a special day.

Fresh corn. It’s hard to get any better than that. Ask Garrison Keillor. He told us about the value of sweet corn. (It was more real than Lake Wobegon.) Prized during its short, precious season by so many people.

We wait for Silver Queen in these parts. The farmers markets sell out in an hour. Seems like us slower folks can’t get any. Yes, the supermarkets get their share already of a fairly good product. But not like that picked the morning you buy it.

Since most of us get corn at the supermarket, care needs to be taken selecting the ones to buy.

Look for bright green husks that are wrapped tightly around the corn. The corn should feel full and heavy for its size. Avoid those ears with dark, limp tassels. There shouldn’t be a feel of holes where is the kernels should be.

Cooking options

What’s the best way to cook that excellent corn? What are some options?

The very best product doesn’t need cooking. It’s great just like it is. A quick dunk in hot water will make the surface warm enough to melt butter. I think I’d melt my butter and pour it on room-temperature corn.

At Jimmy’s, we made fresh corn chowder. We cut the kernels from tender sweet new corn and mixed it with heavy cream and seasoning. That was it.

Boiling corn on the cob is mostly a mistake. If it’s that tough, there are better ways to cook it.

A short simmer can be OK. Very short, if needed. Some advocate additives in the water like salt or sugar. I think these are overkill. The corn isn’t in there that long.

Another way to cook corn on the cob is to bake it. Leave it wrapped in its husks for protection and flavoring. Thirty minutes at 350˚ will do it.

Grilling corn can be very successful. Some people par-cook the corn and then finish it on the grill. If it’s really tender, it will cook completely from the fire.

Make sure to char the kernels a bit for the full grill effect.

You can leave it wrapped or shuck it. Some people soak the corn ahead of time to keep the husks from burning. You can pull the husks back, take the silks off and then re-wrap the corn. Sure is easier to serve that way.

Season, serve

Butter is my favorite condiment for corn. Sometimes a little salt is needed. That’s it. But there are certainly other ways to season and serve corn on the cob. Great news — they’re good.

Lime juice and cilantro blended into butter is a successful combination. Add some cayenne to mine please.

Another way to go is adding cheese. This works perfectly if the corn is grilled.

Coat the exterior in melted butter. I like to sprinkle with smoked paprika for extra flavor. Then roll the corn in crumbled cheese. A Mexican queso works well. Feta is a flavorful option. So is pecorino. It’s my favorite.

Don’t rule out pesto. Coat the warm corn with that mixture and you have a winner. Other fresh herbs work well, as does basil.

Seems like there are lots of tasty ways to serve corn on the cob. I look forward to trying lots of them as fresh corn hits the markets.

Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.

Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.

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