An Ear in the Hand

Here’s some food for thought: no other physical activity I can think of is more intertwined in our subconscious than eating. Food and eating takes us right back to our very first memories, the bond we formed with our mothers, the most powerful and deep rooted triggers in our brains that connects food and eating to the experiences who make us who we are today. Flavors, aromas, textures, colors, combined with those emotional memories, all come together and capture those moments in our minds for eternity. There’s no question, food is the magic time machine that brings us face to face with the most vivid and enduring mental and emotional snapshots of our lives.

Corn and summer…..the crisp popping of fresh, sweet, barely off the stalk corn, the butter melting on the shiny kernels, the back door open as the day’s heat gives way to the cool breezes of twilight, my mother in capri pants, her hair in a kerchief, my brother and I, our little legs browned by the sun swinging under the diningroom table…….and a big steaming platter filled with ears of New Jersey corn. And just as we were finishing dinner, we’d hear the Good Humor truck coming up the street. Are you with me?

I’d kind of forgotten how good fresh corn really is until we moved from Texas back up to the northeast. You see, growing corn requires a good deal of water and Texas is really too dry to grow great corn. Our first summer here, we bought corn at the farmer’s market and the first bite whisked me right back to my childhood. The first sighting of corn in the grocery store after a long, dark winter means that summer is here. All summer long, we eat corn as often as possible.

This year, the corn has been incredible. Our local corn is abundant right now and at $6.00 for a dozen ears, I’m buying a lot of it. We’ve been alternating between grilled corn and boiled corn. Boiling is the simplest preparation and allows the true flavor of the corn to shine. Grilling helps to develop the sugars in the corn and imparts a lovely roasted sweetness. Many people will grill their corn right in the stalk. The technique includes partially shucking the corn, removing the silk and buttering the raw ears before replacing the husk, then soaking the ears so the husks don’t burn on the grill. I’ve never had good results with this method, so I just shuck and clean the corn and wrap it in buttered foil, then place it on the grill. Butter and sugar corn, silver queen, any variety, any preparation, it’s killer delicious.

Usually, when it’s just the two of us, I’ll buy 6 ears at a time and we usually have a few ears left over. Our favorite leftover corn recipe is corn fritters, a standard from Jason’s childhood food memories. He found the recipe on line and makes them for me all the time. These fluffy little beauties make a wonderful accompaniment to any summer dinner. I just love them.

1 c fresh corn…you can use frozen corn, but I might have to kill you
2 beaten eggs
1/4 c plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp coarse yellow corn meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
spices, like cayenne pepper, nutmeg or cinnamon to taste

Cut the corn off the cob and mix all the ingredients up in a bowl. In a good cast iron skillet, heat up about a 1/4 inch of canola oil on medium high heat. Drop tablespoons full of the mixture into the pan and fry until golden brown on each side. They’re crispy and delicate on the outside and ethereal and cloud-like on the inside. They absorb sauces really well without losing their delicate crunch. Serve these pillows of corny goodness with a lovely cut of meat, your favorite dipping sauces or just a little salt and pepper. They’re excellent.

The best part about making these corn fritters is the little niblets of battered corn that find their way out of the fritters and hang out in the frying pan getting all dark brown and crunchy. I like to scoop them out of the pan and let them drain a little on paper towels, then sprinkle them with salt and nibble on the niblets. Its the cooks treat!!

About radioabby

I'm a broadcast professional and home cook who loves music, travel and exploring unique, distinctive things, places and ideas. I love to cook, discover new flavors and improvise in the kitchen.
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4 Responses to An Ear in the Hand

  1. Barbara says:

    I dunno…Texas has some darn fine corn when you get it fresh. These sound divine, Abby! Will have to try!!!

  2. Lisa P says:

    I notice you get the kernels off the cob the way I do: take a knife right to ’em! I missed the boat when it comes to a certain kitchen savoir faire (of the Williams-Sonoma/Martha Stewart variety: a ), so I can’t claim familiarity with the various kernel kutters, cornstrippers and cob robbers on the market.

    Several weeks ago, Andy Rooney’s segment was about kitchen gadgets:

    The only corn-specific item is an 8 pound mold for “corn STICKS” (also please note rusty skank on strawberry hulling device near the end – big fun.)

    • radioabby says:

      Alton Brown has a philosophy that I have adpoted, that no kitchen gadget should only have one task. Almost everything in my kitchen is a multi-tasking device. The egg slicer might be the one exception, although I understand they slice mushrooms really nicely.

  3. Mr. Telephundt says:

    Word of warning, when you fry fresh corn, it has a tendency to explode in the hot oil. Be sure to have a splatter guard on hand.

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