Alex Eats: Fresh Corn

by in Recipes, July 26th, 2011

fresh corn on the cob
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

It’s hard to beat the taste of corn bought from a roadside stand — just driving past a cornfield makes my mouth water. I imagine taking the corn off the grill and watching the butter melt over the kernels — the salt, the first bite. Nothing beats it. Here are some of my favorite tips for purchasing and preparing corn:

1. I always pick corn where the husk clings tightly to the cob; they are the most freshly picked. Similarly, I avoid buying cleaned corn wrapped in plastic or trimmed on both ends for “easier” eating. They tend to be dry and less fresh. The more “whole” you buy your vegetables, the better.

2. If you’re roasting the corn in the oven or cooking directly on the grill, leave the ears encased in their husks, rotating their position as they cook for 15-20 minutes. This method gently steams the corn, leaving it juicy and imparting a light smoky flavor.

3. If husking, remove the outer leaves and the inner layer of “silk.” Then wipe the corn with a damp cloth to remove any stubborn excess strands that may cling directly to the kernels.

4. If boiling, match the amount of salt added to the cooking water with brown sugar to intensify the taste.

5. If corn has been intensely charred, it’s great to use in a homemade salsa or salad. Hold a shucked ear of corn upright on a flat surface and slice the kernels off in rows. Drop them into a preheated sauté pan and toast them dry until they start to darken on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Add a touch of butter, a pinch of sugar, salt and cracked black pepper to finish. Remove from the heat.

6. Don’t let the cleaned cobs go to waste — make a corn stock. Simply arrange them in the bottom of a pot and cover with water and a touch of salt. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove from the heat, strain and reserve the liquid. Discard the cobs. Use as a base for a corn soup, rice pilaf or sauce. It freezes nicely, too.

Browse Food Network’s grilled corn recipes for summer.

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Comments (16)

  1. Tierra Sur says:

    Fantastic tips. For eating I would include…. add LOTS of butter. Even when it's fresh lots of butter never hurts. :)
    -TS

  2. Mark says:

    add some Mayo and Parm. cheese…. YUMMY

  3. Jeannie says:

    How long do you cook the corn when using boiling water? Do you start timing it after you drop the corn into the water, or wait for the water to come to a boil again?

    I also like to cook ears of corn in the microwave (especially handy if only making corn for 1 or 2 people): Leave corn in husks with silk and place in microwave. It's not necessary to add any water or to cover corn. Cook on high for 2 minutes per ear. Remove with tongs as corn will be very hot. Wait a minute to cool. Then pull the silk from the end of the corn; it will pull easily. Peel off the husks, add butter and preferred seasonings, and enjoy.

  4. dolly griswell says:

    you never said how the corn should boil my bolied corn is usually tough frozen corn seems to be more plump and softer what
    am i doing wrong

  5. Roy Cole says:

    What setting on my grill? low Medium or High?

  6. BubbaGourmet says:

    I grill corn in the husks on high. As far as boiling it, I don't anymore but I used to find that simmering it for 20 minutes resulted in nicely tender corn.

  7. jmr says:

    to boil-have water come to a rolling boil–place corn in the pot for 4 minutes. after 4 minutes-take it out and its done.

  8. jeri says:

    I pick corn that has small kernels, they are young and tender. My dad said when they are big and yellow they are only fit for the cows! Cook as close to picking as possible. Boil only long enough to to get the cobb hot, roll on a cube of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!!! Yum.

  9. Marianne says:

    Another way to cook corn is place them with the husk on in the microwave. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side, Take out remove husk and silk and enjoy. Great tips thanksl

  10. Tom H says:

    My wife peals open the top of the husk slightly, and holds under running water to soak in and out for about a min. Wraps it in a small dishtowel, and microwaves 2 min, flip it over, and go another 1 1/2 min. Caution.. shucking is hot and steamy. She finds it more flavorful than boiling or grilling.

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