When corn is abundant and fresh it’s easy to think of whole cobs, perhaps lightly charred from the grill, dripping with butter. Without a griller-person in house, my most-used variation of this is microwaved corn in the husk. It’s so easy to cook, has great flavor from the husk as well as from not being boiled, and is easy to clean and remove the strings. A bonus is my husband never complains about it.
We both love creamed corn, corn soufflé and corn pudding. But then we have the other times, when we want something different, something we haven’t tried before. And the times when the season doesn’t accommodate our desires.
I asked around, and found a new group of recipes, two of which I especially enjoyed after testing them. Surprisingly, the recipes were not specifically corn recipes, although obviously they were thought of that way or they wouldn’t have been recommended.
Features editor Teresa Taylor immediately thought of a favorite recipe of hers from esteemed Culinary Institute of Charleston teacher Donald Barickman, the former chef of Magnolias. The recipe for Shrimp and Rice Salad, with an abundant amount of fresh corn, was included in the 2006 cookbook, "Magnolias: Authentic Southern Cuisine."
Since my husband was having a tooth pulled, with the clear instructions to eat soft food, it seemed ideal. It made a gracious plenty and could easily be halved to feed the average family, was delicious, and is perfect for occasions like a buffet, or when eating and running is necessary during Spoleto, whether with guests or as leftovers stretched out over the week.
The other clear winner of the solicited recipes was one of Virginia Willis, Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed With Summer Vegetables, from her latest cookbook, "Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover's Tour of the Global South." It also happens to fit the easily-made-ahead category, and is fail-safe.
It turned out I was rushing the fresh corn season at the store I frequent, with only slightly wizened corn in the husk available, as well as packaged cobs and frozen corn. I did cook all the cooked corn required in the recipes in the microwave and then cut the corn off, but I have no objection to frozen corn.
Tip: Don’t toss away the cobs after scraping off the corn — cover the cobs with water in s saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer half an hour. Remove from the heat, strain and use for soup. The broth will freeze, but it is not recommended to freeze the cobs.
Microwaved corn on the cob
Microwaving corn on the cob is clearly the easiest and, to me, the corniest tasting method of cooking corn. Up to four ears of corn, with husk and silks intact, can be microwaved simultaneously on a glass pie plate or other shallow plate that will hold the corn easily. Cooking is dependent on the quantity in the microwave. A little judicious testing is needed. Use 3 minutes per ear of corn for up to four ears of corn as the guide. Remove from the microwave and let sit a few minutes in the husks until cool enough to handle. Pull the husks back but do not remove from the cob. Use a sturdy paper towel to pull the silks off the cob. Discard the silks. Leave the husks on as a “handle” or discard if preferred. Serve with butter, salt and pepper.
There are other methods of removing the husk and silk after cooking. One is to cut through the cob at the stem and then dangle the cob from the other end, pulling off the silks and husk in one or two shavings. Go over with a paper towel to remove any wayward husk and silk.
Baked corn on the cob in husk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the corn in its silk and husks in a shallow pan of water for 15 minutes. Spread the corn one layer deep on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook in the oven 45 minutes. Remove husks and silks carefully with a mitt or several layers of paper towel, as above.
Remove most of the husk from the cobs leaving the last layer where the kernels are visible through the husk. Cut off any silks from the end of the cob. Soak briefly to create a little steam and prevent burning. Grill over medium heat for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, turning every 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove husk as above.