The Perfect Ear of Corn

Corn-on-the-CobSeems like we’re on a bit of a summer food binge here at AAR. A few days ago Jean talked about a new salad recipe she’d tried (mango salad that sounds divine) using fish sauce. A few weeks ago, I was all about summer cherries. Well, my summer food obsession hasn’t waned. This morning I woke up thinking about fresh corn on the cob.

Corn on the cob is definitely a comfort food for me, reminding me of summers growing up. My mother would make corn on the cob for us several times a week while corn was in season. As kids, we would stick our little yellow plastic corn cobs in the ends of the corn, slather the cob with butter, dump on way too much salt, and be in heaven.

As an adult, I initially made corn on the cob exactly as my mother did; I boiled it for 15 minutes. To me, that was how corn on the cob was supposed to be prepared. I was quite shocked when about 10 years ago a chef on a cooking show on TV said that you should only ever boil corn for 30 seconds. Surely that couldn’t be right!

But, I was all for experimenting, so I decided to gradually cut down the time on my boiling. The first time, I was really brave, and cut the boiling time from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. I was pleased to discover that the corn did taste better. So, at that point, I decided to cut two minutes off the time and discovered that eight minutes was indeed better.

I’ve finally reduced the time to two minutes, and have just stuck at that point. The corn does taste unbelievably fresh and crispy. In fact, I don’t think I could even eat corn cooked for 15 minutes again.

However, I’ve now started thinking that it’s time to do more experimenting….with the after cooking part. I tend to mostly just add a bit of pepper and a tiny bit of salt (although sometimes none). I generally don’t have butter in the house so go without. But lately I’ve noticed some interesting recipes for various types of flavored butters with things like jalapenos or garlic mixed in. I’m thinking another experiment is definitely in order before the summer ends.

How about you, do you like corn on the cob? If so, how do you prepare it? Any favorite toppings?


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13 Responses to “The Perfect Ear of Corn”

  1. dick says:

    I like corn on the cob fresh, but a few minutes seems very short to me. Also we always add sugar to the water, which heightens the flavor.

  2. Gail says:

    Actually the next thing I want to try with fresh doesn’t involve cooking it.

  3. Dick, I’ve never heard of adding sugar to the water. That’s interesting. Do you just add a little bit? I was very skeptical when I first heard to barely cook it, but I really do like it.

    Gail, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen raw corn used in a dish. I’ll be very curious to hear how you like it. I haven’t even tried to eat a raw kernel. It does sound intriguing.

  4. Missie says:

    Our two favorite ways for corn on the cob are either to grill them (season with a bit of S&P, drizzle with a bit of olive oil & wee bit of butter, and wrap in foil) or to steam them in a microwave corn on the cob cooker.

    Doing them on the grill, we like to let them get a bit blackened — gives it a different kind of texture and flavor that we enjoy. Steaming in the microwave gives it that fresh crispness that you’re describing.

    I think flavored butters would be D-I-V-I-N-E. I’ve made a bleu cheese butter (mix together equal parts bleu cheese and butter) that transforms anything you use it on — garlic toast, hamburgers, whatever you want to try it on. And because it’s so chock full of flavor, a little goes a long way.

  5. LinnieGayl says:

    Missie, I just know I’d love grilled corn, but don’t have a grill (except for a tiny George Foreman) so it’s out for me. I’ve never tried microwaving it, but that does sound interesting.

    I love the sound of bleu cheese butter!

  6. Tee says:

    I love corn on the cob. I too used to cook it about 15 minutes, but now only around 5. It’s long enough. Also, I used to put a small amount of sugar in the water until I read someplace that it could toughen the corn. I don’t think that’s true, but I’ve never gotten back into the habit of adding it. As far as garnishments, I use nothing. I don’t need the salt and totally dislike butter on anything (unless it’s a hidden ingredient in the preparation of foods). But to see melted butter on any food turns my stomach. So I enjoy the corn as is, just as I do a baked potato, veggies, rolls and whatever else most people throw melted butter on.

    My son has tried grilling it a few times, but he goes through way too much trouble doing it. He soaks it in water in the husk for several hours, then puts it on the grill. Too long to wait. Good eating with the corn. This is definitely the season for it.

  7. LinnieGayl says:

    Tee, that does sound like a lot of work that your son went through to grill corn. That’s probably much healthier for you that you don’t like the taste of butter. When I think back to how much salt I put on my corn as a child, I shudder.

  8. Victoria S says:

    Love corn on the cob, and now that I’ve read this blog, I’m gonna try reducing my cooking time down to 5 minutes. Butter, no salt or plain is my flavor of choice. I also love white corn, plain boiled.

    I have also microwaved it, in the full husk. When you take it out of the microwave, the silk and husk peel away like butter.

    I like it grilled, but have to agree…it’s too much trouble for not enough gain in taste.

  9. Syd says:

    MMmmmm corn on the cob. My mom (a great Southern cook) taught me many many many years ago to boil it for only 3 minutes, otherwise it gets mealy. I eat it with too much butter and too much salt, just like when I was a little girl. Some bad habits just can’t be broken. LOL

  10. LinnieGayl says:

    Victoria S, I think you’ll be happy with the results if you cut down the time. I tend to like the bi-color corn best.

    Syd, how interesting that you learned that years ago! Mealy is a perfect description.

  11. I’m going to try cutting the boiling time down from my usual 5-10 minutes. Like Dick, I do add sugar to the water. It definitely makes the corn sweeter, and can rescue corn that is just a little bit older.

    I did once have corn that was done on the grill, but whatever they did, it wasn’t enough. It tasted raw, to me.

    I like butter, some salt and pepper. Mmmm!!!

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