Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to Cook a Whole Ear of Corn

Corn Recipes
Okay, I’ll admit that corn recipes are some of my biggest culinary weaknesses. I’ve had a love affair with corn for as long as I can remember. It’s something I really miss when I’m on a low carb diet. I can do without sweets and desserts fairly easily, but I crave corn. We always grew lots of corn in our gardens, so I learned how to cook corn a lot of different ways, and I don’t think I ever met a corn dish that I didn’t like. I like fried corn, creamed corn, corn casserole, corn fritters, corn relish, and niblets with butter and salt. I also add corn to soups, stews, salsas, salads, and dips. I sometimes use frozen corn, and I occasionally resort to canned corn, but they’re no match for fresh corn recipes. We grew an abundant supply of Silver Queen every year, and we staggered the plantings so that we’d have weeks and weeks of the delicious ears. I spent much of my summers cooking sweet corn. We often ate it every day, and I always froze a lot of it, too, so that we could enjoy corn recipes all year. I always froze some of the ears whole, too, as I love corn on the cob. If you’re not sure about how to cook a whole ear of corn, I’m going to provide you with some tips and ideas in this article!

Fresh Corn Recipes

Fresh corn recipes aren’t really much different than other recipes for corn. Personally, however, I don’t like for the wonderful flavor of the kernels to be “lost” in lots of other ingredients. As a result, in most of my fresh corn recipes, the ears or kernels are the main stars, so to speak. Unless I have a large supply of fresh corn, I’m not going to “waste” it in soups, stews, and such.
My favorite recipes for fresh corn are creamed corn, fried corn, black beans and corn, and boiled corn on the cob. For creamed corn, we scraped the kernels off the ears into a large metal casserole dish. We always added just a little water and baked the corn in the oven at 325 degrees for about twenty minutes or so. After that, I froze some of the corn and kept out enough for a “mess” to cook right then. To finish cooking the creamed corn, I poured it into a large pot and added butter, salt, and black pepper. I cooked it over medium-low heat on the stove for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently. Some cooks add milk, flour, and/or sugar to their creamed corn, but if you use corn that’s very sweet and very sweet, you won’t need to add such ingredients.
If you want my black beans and corn recipe, just click the link. It's a quick and easy recipe and is a wonderful concoction that serves as a great side dish for just about any type of meat, poultry, or fish. We especially like it with grilled and smoked pork, chicken, and beef.
For fried corn, I remove the silks and shucks from the ears and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. I then “pick through” the kernels to remove any missed silks. I heat some bacon drippings in my black iron skillet and sauté the corn over medium heat while stirring. Sometimes I add diced onion, garlic, spices, or fresh herbs. If the kernels need “tenderizing,” I cover the pan and reduce the heat for a few minutes.

How To Cook Corn

When it comes to how to cook sweet corn, you have lots of options. First, you’ll have to decide which form the dish will take. You can cut the kernels off the cob with a knife, or you can use a special scraper tool that punctures the kernels as it removes them from the cob. This results in a creamy, liquidy texture, or creamed corn. Of course, you can always leave the kernels on the cob and cook the whole ears, for corn on the cob.
When cooking sweet corn, timing is everything. As soon as corn is pulled, those sugars that make the corn so wonderfully sweet begin to turn into starches. Believe me – the very best sweet corn is accomplished when the ears go straight from the field or garden into the cooking pot. When we were growing our own corn, I got the pulled ears to cooking as fast as I possibly could.
Timing the cooking process is important, too. If you don’t cook the ears or kernels long enough, they’ll taste “raw,” and they won’t be very tender. On the other hand, if you cook corn for too long, the texture will be too soft, and in my opinion, the taste is somewhat affected, too. When you’re cooking corn, remember that the kernels will continue to cook a little, even after the cooking process is over, until the corn reaches room temperature. If you like your kernels to be crisp, I suggest you stop cooking just before your corn is super tender. Allow the corn to rest at room temperature for a few minutes to finish cooking completely. If you wrap the hot cooked ears in foil, they’ll remain moist and juicy because the steam rising from the corn will be trapped.

Ways To Cook Corn On The Cob

There are several ways to cook corn on the cob. Some methods are quick and easy, while others are a little more trouble and time consuming. If you want to cook a single ear of corn, I suggest using the microwave. For large amounts of corn on the cob, you can use a huge pot, or you can bake or roast the ears in the oven. If you’re doing some outdoor grilling and already have the grill cranked up, grilling corn on the cob is a great method.
Of course, there are other ways to cook corn on the cob, too. Sometimes I sauté whole ears of fresh sweet corn in my old iron skillet with some butter. Occasionally, I deep fry the silked and shucked ears in cooking oil. I’ve even batter-fried corn on the cob, with very tasty results. A couple of times, we’ve cooked corn on the cob on our meat smoker when we were smoking ribs or pork butts.
There’s no one best way to cook corn on the cob. If you’re a corn lover like I am, you most likely cook and eat the grain often, so you might want to try out a lot of different corn recipes. It probably won’t take you long to discover which are your and your family’s favorites!

Cooking Corn on the Cob

Cooking corn on the cob isn’t really all that difficult, but it can be somewhat confusing for cooks who don’t have much experience with cooking sweet corn. For one thing, corn usually absorbs other flavors readily, so it’s easy to overdo it when it comes to herbs and spices. If you ever eaten corn at a Low Country Boil, for example, you probably know what I’m talking about. Corn that’s cooked in the same pot with spicy shrimp boil will taste a lot like the spices used. It’s better to use a light hand when adding seasonings in the cooking corn process. If you find that you didn’t use enough seasonings while cooking, you can always sprinkle more on the cooked ears. Once the corn is over-seasoned, however, it’s pretty hard to reduce or eliminate the herbs and spices in order to make the ears more palatable. If you find that you used too much spice, salt, or herbs when cooking corn on the cob, boil the ears for one minute in plain water. That will help reduce some of the overpowering flavors.

How Long To Cook Corn on the Cob

How long to cook corn on the cob depends on several factors. One, of course, is the cooking method used. Another is whether you leave the shucks on or not. Still another is the size and age of the ears. Young, tender ears will cook more quickly, while older, more mature ears will usually require more cooking time in order to get tender. Another time factor with cooking corn on the cob is a matter of personal preference. Some people like the kernels to be crisp, some like for the corn to be a little chewy, and some people prefer their corn to be very soft – almost “mushy.” You might need a little cooking practice and some experimentation to find out exactly how you like your corn. I like mine to be a little crisp, while hubby likes his to be very soft, so I always have to cook his ears a little longer than I do mine.
As a general rule of thumb, the cooking time for boiling corn is about seven minutes. Grilled corn on the cob needs to cook for about twelve to fourteen minutes, provided the shucks have been removed. For cooking corn in the husk, grilling time will be a little longer, about fifteen minutes or so. If you want to steam the ears in a steamer basket, that will take up to eighteen or twenty minutes. Cooking corn in the microwave is often the quickest method for cooking corn on the cob, as one year takes only around five minutes. Remember, though – these suggested cooking times are only general guidelines. Depending on the ears you’re cooking and on your individual tastes, cooking times might need to be adjusted a little.

Boiling Corn

Boiling corn is probably the most used method for cooking corn on the cob. Most people remove the shucks first, along with the silks. If you notice a bad kernel or two, don’t discard the entire ear. Just cut out the bad kernels with a knife. Bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil, then add the ears. Cover the pot with a heavy, tight fitting lid and continue boiling for around seven minutes. If you like, you can add some seasonings to the water, but be careful with the salt shaker. Adding too much salt to the cooking water can make the corn tough. It’s better to sprinkle the cooked ears with salt. Once the ears of corn have reached the desired tenderness, you might want to plunge them in cool water to halt the cooking process.

Microwave Corn

Cooking corn in the microwave is quick and easy, especially if you’re cooking just one ear. It’s a heck of a lot easier than dragging out a pot and waiting for it to come to a boil. For microwave corn, shuck and silk the ear and wrap it in a wet paper towel. Place the corn on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high for three minutes. Turn the ear of corn over and cook for another two minutes on high.

How To Cook Corn On The Grill

There’s more than one way for how to cook corn on the grill. You can wrap the ears in foil, or you can place the ears directly on the grilling grate. Be advised, however, that the texture of the kernels will be strongly affected by the method you choose, and they’ll be very different. The flavor will be a little different, too. The naked ears will have kernels that are much chewier, while the ones wrapped in foil will be more tender. Also, because the naked ears have had more exposure to the charcoal, they’ll have a smokier flavor.
One advantage to cooking ears of corn in foil, in addition to a softer texture, is that you can add your own seasonings to the ears. You can slather the ears with butter or olive oil, and sprinkle on herbs, spices, or other seasoning agents. I sometimes like spicy grilled corn with sort of a Mexican flair, so I often add butter, lime juice, and cayenne. When you wrap the ears in foil individually, you can custom season the ears to everyone’s liking, too.
For grilled corn on the cob, remove the shucks and silks from the ears. Once that preparation is done, I place each ear on a square of heavy aluminum foil and add the seasonings I wish to use. Next, roll each ear up tightly in the foil, and twist the ends of the foil square to close. Place the wrapped ears on a medium or medium-low grill and cook until desired tenderness. After five or six minutes, turn the ears over so the other side can cook. Check the ears after ten or twelve minutes. If they need to cook a little longer, be sure to reclose the foil tightly.

Cooking Corn In The Husk

Cooking corn in the husk is yet another way of cooking sweet corn. Some cooks swear by this method, as they say the husks or shucks add extra flavor to the kernels. You can cook corn in the shucks by boiling, baking, or roasting, but grilling is the preferred method for cooking corn in the husk. There are basically two ways to go about this. Some people leave on the entire shucks, top silks and all. I don’t really like that method. Instead, I like to cut the ends off the corn and shucks. I then remove at least one layer of the shucks. After that, I like to immerse the ears in cool water. The corn needs to remain completely under the water, so you’ll probably need some sort of weight to hold the ears down. A heavy plate or lid works well here. Leave the ears in the water for thirty minutes to an hour. When the grill is ready with medium coals, remove the corn from the water and pat the ears dry. Place the corn on the grill and cook for around fifteen minutes. Turn the ears during grilling to make sure they cook evenly.