The corn identity: Pan-roasting kernels boosts flavor

It’s getting so you can’t take a step without treading on an ear or two of corn.

That’s a good thing. Of all the wonders that the Americas have given to the world, perhaps corn is the most wondrous of them all.

You can boil your corn on the cob, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with it. You can soak it in water and cook it on the grill, and you can even microwave it — it makes the silk easy to remove, but just a little rubbery.

But how about corn that is cut off the cob and roasted in a pan.

Pan-roasted corn is a special kind of delicious. Cooking the kernels in a pan concentrates their flavor, making it just a little sweeter, but also adds deeper, lower and earthier notes to the taste.

Plus, the corn is flecked with lovely brown spots. It never hurts to add a little visual appeal.

Here are three distinctly different recipes using pan-roasted corn.

Pasta with Corn and Cream. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

PASTA WITH CORN AND CREAM

1 ear of corn

1 T. butter, divided

1/4 large onion, chopped

1/2 c. dry white wine

1/2 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. cherry tomatoes

8 oz. penne pasta

1/2 c. whipping or heavy cream, see note

8 basil leaves

Note: This recipe calls for the cream to boil, so do not use any lighter cream than whipping or heavy cream.

Put on water to boil for pasta.

Cut kernels from ear of corn. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently, until kernels have small brown spots, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

In a saucepan or the same clean skillet, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine, chicken stock and tomatoes and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, start to cook the pasta.

Add cream to the mixture, bring to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer until thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in the corn. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve over cooked pasta with 2 torn basil leaves per serving. Makes 4 servings

(Recipe by Daniel Neman)

Elote Salad. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

ELOTE SALAD

2 ears corn

2 t. butter (2/3 T.)

3 T. mayonnaise

3 T. sour cream

1/2 c. queso fresco, crumbled

1/2 t. chili powder

1/8 t. cayenne

2 T. lime juice

2 small chicken breasts, cooked, optional

Lettuce

Cut the kernels off the corn. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add corn and cook, stirring frequently, until most kernels have small brown spots, about 20 minutes.

Mix together the corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, cayenne and lime juice. If using, cut the chicken into small pieces.

Place 4 portions of lettuce on plates. If using chicken, place on lettuce. Top with corn mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Corn Salsa, served with tortilla chips. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

ROASTED CORN SALSA

2 ears of corn

1 t. (1/3 T.) butter

1 T. oil

2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered

1 onion, peeled, root removed and quartered

1 jalapeño, stem removed and quartered, see note

1 t. salt

Juice of 1 lime

2 T. chopped cilantro

Note: For a hot salsa, keep the jalapeño’s seeds and pith. For a somewhat milder salsa, remove the seeds and pith. For mild salsa, do not use the jalapeño.

Cut kernels off the cob. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring frequently, until the kernels develop small brown spots, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the tomatoes, onions and jalapeño (if using). Cook, turning frequently, until vegetables are softened and colored, and the tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes.

Place tomatoes, onions and jalapeño in a blender with the salt and lime juice. Blend briefly until chunky. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in reserved corn and cilantro. Makes 3 1/2 cups, or 14 servings.

(Recipe by Daniel Neman)

— Tribune News Service

 

 

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