I have been a bit absent for the last two weeks and I apologize. We finally got our 100 foot tall heroic, lightning-struck tree down safely on Friday, which involved a crane because it was almost cracked in half at the topmost 20 feet of it and couldn’t support a man’s weight. Another blessing to count that we didn’t have a storm take it down before we could. Unfortunately, the beautiful azaleas that you saw me post in spring, and that are part of the header on the blog right now, have taken some hits. I hope they won’t become casualties when it is all said and done.
All of the contractors are behind in our area this summer due to these storms and the damage they have wrought. It’s hard to believe that our strike was June 26th, and here we are just barely beginning to start work with repairs, replacement and so on. But next week we hope to start rebuilding the chimney and after that, replacing half the roof. When all of that is done, hopefully a month from now, we will get into painting. Since this process is invasive, ongoing and fluid—and we both work from home—this may cause some erratic timing of posting and commenting on other posts, as I’m sure you may have noticed already! So I ask you to please bear with me. 🙂
On another more palatable note, all this rain must be really good for growing corn! We’ve had some spectacularly sweet corn coming in here lately and, being that sweet corn is a favorite around our house, I’ve been preparing a lot of it.
A very traditional and typically Southern preparation of sweet corn is to cut it off the cob, scraping all of the corn “milk” into the pot, season it simply with salt and pepper, and cook it in a cast iron skillet with some butter (or you can prepare it in the microwave) until it is tender and sweet. I love using the cast iron skillet because it causes the sugars to caramelize a bit, much like when whole cobs are cooked on the grill, but without the char or smokiness. I love corn on the cob, especially grilled, but this is my new favorite way to enjoy it. And since it’s rained more than it’s been sunny around here, it’s nice to have an alternative to the grill.
As truly fabulous as skillet corn is plain, why stop there? A couple of simple variations can elevate your corn to new heights, and allow you to mix and match with a bounty of summer meals. I love spicy Mexican corn and herbed corn on the cob, and both of those flavors are wonderful with skillet corn, too.
While I think I will call this a “method” rather than a recipe, here is this terrific way to enjoy fresh sweet corn off the cob, and some lively variations to try as well. I’m telling you, if you don’t try making sweet corn in a skillet, you’re really missing one of life’s great eating pleasures. Cheers!
Southern Skillet Corn
Skillet Corn with Chipotle Butter and Lime (Queso Fresco optional)
Skillet Corn with Fresh Herb Butter
Southern Skillet Corn and Variations
Makes 4-6 Servings
5-6 ears of fresh yellow, white or mixed sweet corn, husk and silks removed and rinsed
2 1/2 to 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
In a large bowl, remove the corn kernels off each cob with a sharp knife by running it down the length of the cob. Turn the knife and scrape down the empty cob with the back of the knife, allowing the liquid “milk” to run into the bowl with the corn. (This is a key ingredient in the preparation…do not skip this step!)
Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and corn milk to the butter and stir until the corn is well coated. Add the salt and pepper and mix through. Continue to cook the corn in the pan, stirring frequently, until it is tender and barely starting to caramelize in some places, about 5-8 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. At this point you can remove the corn from the stove and serve, or add in the additions below.
Skillet Corn with Chipotle and Lime
To the base cooked skillet corn above, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime and stir in 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce that has been minced. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve. You can also sprinkle on a little crumbled queso fresco or crumbled feta if you like.
Skillet Corn with Fresh Herbs
To the base cooked skillet corn above, add 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves and 10 fresh basil leaves cut into thin ribbons cross-wise (chiffonade). Stir into the corn to mix well, adjust seasonings adding a bit more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.