Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Corn Season is nigh, and so my dear friend AndyS. checks in with some valuable advice for buying, cooking, and enjoying corn.
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Good sweet-corn (yellow and white) comes from a farm with a name -- not "Georgia" or "Florida." There's okay corn at the supermarket from those places, but unless you're using it for a recipe (e.g., corn chowder or cornbread) I wouldn't bother.
Take a peek inside the husk-- the kernels of good, fresh corn are shiny, not dull.
Try your corn options from different local farms and keep track of which ones you like best (say, your Top 3, in order.) It's very easy to forget the farm names and end up with mediocre corn next time.
Corn is fattening. Once you figure out who sells good corn, only eat good corn.
Corn ears that are way above or below average in size are not the way to go with corn. That being said, too small is better than too big.
Ideally, corn is eaten the day it is picked. Good corn may still be pretty good the next day. I wouldn't buy yesterday's corn, but I would eat it if I bought it yesterday.
You can grill corn, roast it in the oven, or even microwave it. (See cyberspace.) I boil corn for 70 seconds in a pot of water that is boiling before I put the corn in it. Avoid overloading, because corn needs space… the ears should fit easily, never crammed against the edges of the pot.
If the kernels on my corn ears look particularly tender, I boil it for only 60 seconds. You can always give the corn a quick dunk in the hot water if the ears aren't hot enough or have cooled off waiting to be eaten.
I've had farm fresh corn in Maryland, where its season starts in early July; in Massachusetts it starts in late July.
Corn season is about a month long… although if you have a farm that sells Silver Queen (all whitish), that corn is generally in season for a couple of weeks past the regular sweet-corn season.
My preference for corn is to add butter and salt, in that order, as it sits on your plate. I butter and salt them one at time in case they need a quick dunk to warm up for eating.
Even at $1/ear, good corn is an eminently affordable pleasure. To my tastes, three times that price doesn't even get you a decent chocolate bar.
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AndyS. And I politely differ on numerous topics. When it comes to cookery, he has a general bias towards simplicity, whereas I thrill to “playfulness” in the kitchen, particularly when it comes to the alchemy of sauce-making. Here’s how, in the horrified eyes of AndyS., I choose to ruin perfectly good corn–
DannyM.’s Garlic-Roquefort-Basil Butter
½ Stick + 1 Pat Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Finely Minced Shallots
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced
2-3 oz. Roquefort
Splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 Basil Leaves, Finely Chopped
Ground Pepper To Taste
Allow butter and Roquefort to soften. Meanwhile, cook shallots in the (melted) pat of butter until quite soft, then add garlic. Cook briefly and then remove from heat. Very briefly blend Roquefort, butter, shallots, olive oil, and garlic in a mini-food processor or by hand. Add basil and pepper. Chill, stirring occasionally until firm. Slather freely over fresh-cooked corn.
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AndyS. Is a Boston-area corn enthusiast and data analyst. DannyM. & AndyS. bonded exactly four decades ago this month over vintage Rolling Stones, vintage Rioja, and uncannily similar senses of humor.