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Corn on the Fourth of July

Corn

Corn Recipes

by

Corn is the most American of food. Although it is thought to have originated in central Mexico, Native Americans had been cultivating it for well over a thousand years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And when the Pilgrims were struggling along, barely surviving the winter of 1620, Native Americans came to the rescue with, among other things, corn. Under the tutelage of Squanto, the colonists planted corn in the spring of 1621, and their survival was assured.

It is appropriate, then, with Independence Day approaching, we pay tribute to the staple crop that made such an enormous contribution to the success of our nation.

Thanks to farmers in the southern hemisphere, fresh corn is available in supermarkets almost year round. But right now, the stores are full of the fat ears of fresh, locally grown corn that everyone associates with summer.

Corn can be prepared in so many different ways. It is found in appetizers, elegant creamy soups, breads, side dishes, patio fare and more. It can, of course, be eaten right off the cob. But, as an ingredient, it can be eaten fresh or dried (popcorn), or take the form of cornmeal or corn flour, not to mention corn syrup. And those are merely the simple forms corn can take.

The corn contained in our recipes here is in several different forms, all of which make for delicious dishes.

Corn Recipes

Fried Corn

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • 4 slices bacon (uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
With a sharp knife, cut the tips of the corn kernels from the cob. Scrape milk and pulp from cob with edge of knife. Set aside.

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add corn and all the scrapings, butter and remaining ingredients to skillet. Cook over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently.

Transfer mixture to a serving dish and sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Makes about 6 servings.

Naturally, corn is a staple of Mexican cooking, so it is not too surprising to find it in salsa.

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (you may use more, depending on the size of the pepper and personal tastes)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put the corn in a small saucepan, barely covering it with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain and cool.

Combine corn with remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 4 cups.

If good fresh corn is not available, use 1-1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn.

Mexican Corn on the Cob

Fresh corn is always great on the grill, but you can make this savory side dish in your oven, too.
  • 8 ears fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 8 squares aluminum foil
In a small bowl, mix the softened butter with the chili powder until mixture is smooth.

Coat each ear of corn with approximately 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture. Wrap each ear in aluminum foil.

To grill, cook with grill lid down, over medium-hot coals 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. For the oven, roast at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Use heavy-duty aluminum foil if you are grilling.

Corny Dogs

If you have ever been to the State Fair of Texas, you've probably experienced the legendary Fletcher's Corny Dog. In fact, you've probably experienced quite a few. With this recipe, you can create your own legend.
  • 8 frankfurters
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Shortening or peanut oil for deep frying
  • Wooden skewers
  • Yellow mustard for dipping
Boil the franks for a few minutes. Remove from water and drain.

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the egg, oil and milk. Add to the dry ingredients, mixing well.

Insert the skewers to within 1/2 inch of the top of each frank. Coat each frank evenly with cornmeal mixture. Deep fry, a few at a time, in hot shortening or oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with lots of yellow mustard.

This creamy, buttery soup can be the start of an elegant meal or a meal in itself.

Fresh Corn Chowder

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob (5 or 6 medium ears)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
Gently sauté the onion in the butter in a dutch oven or heavy saucepan until transparent and tender. Stir in the green and red peppers, corn, salt, basil, thyme and black pepper. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove half of the vegetable mixture and place in a blender or food processor. Pulse until mixture is smooth. Return mixture to pan, stirring well. Add the milk, and cook until heated through. Do not boil. Makes 5 cups.

No question about it, corn is a mainstay and, considering its place in our nation's history, it's downright patriotic to put it on your menu for the Fourth of July.

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