The heavyweight champion of cookout season, sweet summer corn knows how to dance with every main dish at the table and often comes out swinging against even the pickiest eaters. From simply grilled corn on the cob to a fun spin on salsa and a shortcut way to revamp a classic dessert, get ready to find out why corn deserves the title of “Best Add-On” at your summer table.
Picture summer without nibbling on at least one ear of corn. How could you? This time of year, this staple crop is sweeter and juicier than ever. And, though it doesn’t need much else than a humble slathering of butter, the possibilities for the in-season ear don’t end there. Think of it as a kernelled canvas — one that can come drizzled, dusted or simply grilled to charred perfection with little effort at all. This week, take your pick of Food Network’s most-brazen corn-on-the-cob recipes and reinvent how your family devours corn on the cob.
In this summer heat, the most-fitting way to take your corn is by way of the grill. Bobby Flay’s Perfectly Grilled Corn on the Cob (pictured above) shows you how to do it once and for all. After giving the corn a good pre-soak, grill each ear with the husks on till the kernels are tender.
Along with juicy tomatoes, tender zucchini and sweet blueberries, corn is among summer’s most-beloved produce, as it’s both easy to prepare and guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters at the dinner table. While the classic preparation of boiling corn and rolling it in a stick of butter is a tried-and-true favorite, this seasonal vegetable can be dressed up to take on next-level tastes with the help of a few can-do recipes. Read on below to get five fresh-corn-based how-tos — the top picks for putting this summer staple to work from each co-host of The Kitchen.
Sunny’s Quick Corn and Pico Salad (pictured above) is a no-cook side dish that takes mere minutes to put together. After starting with store-bought pico de gallo, Sunny adds fresh corn, fragrant cumin and refreshing lime juice to balance the flavors.
That all changed once I took them a step further, beyond the reheat-and-eat approach. I cooked more white rice than expected one night, and discovered a few days later that cold, cooked rice is the best kind to use for making a tastier homemade version of Chinese takeout.
Now that there’s corn at every farmers market, we’re spending a lot of time husking it while wondering if there’s a better way. Last year, a video came out addressing this predicament that immediately went viral, racking up, at last count, more than 7 million YouTube views. In it, an adorable gentleman claimed that if you steamed corn in the microwave and then shook it out of the husk, it would slide out well-cooked and completely clean of husk and silk. We had to see this technique in action for ourselves. Our conclusion? Microwaving corn on the cob works, and it’s delicious. The corn comes out perfectly tender — with not a string of silk in sight.
The first 25 years of my life, I ate fresh corn just one way: It was shucked, boiled until tender and slathered with butter. And while that’s a delicious way to handle the sweet corn of summer, I’ve learned during the last decade that there are many other ways to do it justice.
It was a batch of grilled corn that first opened my eyes to corn’s flexibility. I was at a cookout and a friend set shucked and lightly oiled cobs on a hot barbecue and kept turning them until the kernels were speckled and golden. Topped with mayonnaise and a little grated cheese, it was transcendentally good.
Once the corn floodgates were open, it was a quick trip to corn salads, salsas and chowders. Really, the only thing I’ve not done with corn is make jelly from the corncobs (a traditional Southern preserve).
This summer, the corn has been particularly abundant, and we’ve been getting a dozen or more ears each week at our farm share pickup. I’ve done every one of my regular preparations, and still, there’s more. Happily, I’ve recently discovered another recipe to add to my repertoire. It’s Bobby Flay’s Creamed Corn Succotash with Cotija, and I can’t stop eating it.
You’ve seen it overflowing the farmers market tables and piling high in the grocery store produce section: Corn is officially in season, with its sweet, bright-yellow cobs at their peak of freshness from now through the end of the summer. While shucking and boiling corn, then dousing it with butter and salt is a deliciously traditional way to prepare this family-friendly vegetable, there are indeed dressed-up versions of the classic that are every bit as simple and quick to prepare. Grilling fresh cobs will deliver a smoky note, while experimenting with ingredient butters or baking the kernels into a sweet casserole will offer next-level tastes and textures that highlight corn’s natural flavor. Check out Food Network’s top-five corn dishes below from the Neelys, Guy, Bobby and more Food Network chefs for easy recipe inspiration.
5. Smoky Corn on the Cob — Thanks to a low and slow grilling technique, these slightly charred cobs have time to become tender without burning.
4. Sweet Corn Pudding — A creamy, cheesy casserole that will round out your backyard barbecue, the Neelys’ fresh-corn bake is spiked with a pinch of cayenne pepper for subtle heat.
Who doesn’t love corn? It’s sweet, crisp, fun to eat and says summer like no other food. We also love corn for its versatility: It’s as delicious boiled as it is grilled, on the cob or off, sauteed or stirred into batters. We created corn recipes of all types for Food Network Magazine‘s July/August booklet, and although I enjoy corn in all its forms, I’m a purist at heart. I like it best simply grilled or boiled, with ample butter and a generous dusting of kosher or sea salt.
When I’m in the mood for a little more pizzazz, I mix up a flavored salt like the jerk or lemon-pepper seasoning in the booklet, both of which are extremely easy to prepare and transform classic corn on the cob into something exceptional. Here are two more recipes for amazing flavored salts. The bacon salt is a perfect complement to grilled corn served alongside burgers and hot dogs; the lemon coriander one tastes great on buttery boiled corn at a clam bake.
Nibbling corn on the cob has its perks, but you already knew that. This hand-held side is as easy as boiling water, smearing butter and going in for a bite. If you ask FN Dish, corn is a cornerstone of the great American barbecue, and it need not be fiddled with.
But as it turns out, things get a lot more interesting when the corn is shaved right of that cob, and Food Network’s fleet of killer summer corn salads are proof.
For a true summery flavor, kick up the grill. Bobby Flay’s Grilled Corn Salad with Lime, Red Chile and Cotija marries charred, sweet kernels with the most aromatic ingredients around. In this Grilled Corn and Chipotle Pepper Salad, all that’s left to do is combine all the ingredients after the corn finishes grilling. Plate these salads next to Tyler Florence’s Carne Asada for a grill-reliant, outdoor meal.
Ina Garten’s Fresh Corn Salad (pictured above) places corn on a pedestal, bringing it together with nothing more than an effortless vinaigrette, diced red onion and fresh basil leaves.
“Knee-high by the Fourth of July.” That’s the saying farmers go by when they’re judging the success of their corn crops. Well July Fourth has come and gone, which means it’s high time to enjoy the fruits of the farmers’ labor.
Though nothing is better than picking up a sweet corncob and chomping into as the warm butter drips down your chin, there are other ways to cook and enjoy this summertime classic. Pair corn off the cob with in-season ingredients and let it shine among other fresh, simple flavors. Check out three of Food Network’s favorite corn-based recipes below, then tell us your favorite way to enjoy corn.
Food Network Magazine’s summer-fresh pasta of Pappardelle With Corn (pictured above) is a light but satisfying dinner that’s easy enough to make on a weeknight. To prepare the sauce, sauté sweet grape tomatoes with butter, garlic and tender corn kernels, then toss with pappardelle noodles — long, flat, wide ribbon-shaped pasta — and add fragrant scallions, nutty Parmesan cheese and basil. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but you can substitute vegetable in order to maintain a meatless meal.