Recipes from the Collection of Mark and Danielle Hughes

 

Oven-roasted corn off the cobb

Serves 2-4

2 cups raw sweet corn kernels (from about 4 ears, any color)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Scatter corn on baking sheet. Drizzle with a scant amount of oil and, using your fingers, toss to coat each kernel. There should be no extra oil pooling on the sheet. Spread corn in a single layer. (Watch corn carefully; it goes from roasted to burned in a few seconds.) Roast corn, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.

Immediately transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with additional oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 95 calories, 2g protein, 4g fat (1g saturated), 16g carbohydrates, 74mg sodium, no cholesterol, 2g dietary fiber.

Corn cooked off the cob is a favorite
By Renee Schettler, Washington Post 7/04

I grew up with the mistaken notion that there was only one way to cook sweet corn. On the cob, in a pot.
Since my sweet-corn coming of age, I've witnessed a lot of backyard bickering about which technique is best: Perched precariously on the side of a grill, husks stripped back and ears exposed mercilessly to the flames. Wrapped in foil, husks intact and shoved among smoldering coals. Suffocated in plastic wrap and nuked on high. Plunged into boiling water. Everyone, it seems, has a secret to cooking corn. Thanks to personal curiosity and, at times, begrudging politeness, I've sampled the upshot of every technique imaginable. But my preference? Corn off the cob.

Sweet corn takes on an entirely new character when it's shaved from the cob, tossed with a scant amount of oil and exposed to high heat. The sugars caramelize, the corn flavor intensifies and the kernels crisp and pop.
This unconventional approach was less a conscious choice than a coping mechanism. Today's fancy sweet-corn hybrids -- Silver Queen, Kandy Korn, White Platinum Lady -- don't taste bad, but they don't taste much like corn to me. At least not the old-fashioned corn of my childhood, which came from a field about a half a minute's sprint from our farmhouse in Iowa. So I came to this off-the-cob approach out of desperation. While boiling, nuking and even grilling corn only serve to amplify its engineered sweetness, roasting seems to draw out its essential corniness.

Once roasted, corn kernels may be strewn atop salad greens or tossed into summer side dishes at whim, though I prefer their simplest incarnation: drizzled with more oil or topped with butter and seasoned unjudiciously with salt. Just as you would with corn on the cob.

Variations

Once you have your roasted corn off the cob, it can easily be added to salsas, strewn atop salads or used as a starting point for new summer side dishes. After the corn has been roasted and you are about to add the final drizzle of oil, try one of these variations:

Basil : Toss with basil leaves that have been thinly sliced or torn into small pieces.

Lime, cilantro and black pepper : Add a squeeze of lime, some finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plenty of cracked black pepper and, if desired, a pinch of grated lime zest.

Corn and green bean salad : Before you roast or broil the corn, line a second baking sheet with foil. Cut a couple of handfuls of trimmed green beans into 1-inch lengths, scatter them on the foil and drizzle with a scant amount of oil. Roast or broil the beans while or before you cook the corn. Toss the beans and corn in a large bowl, drizzle with additional oil, season with salt and, if desired, add thinly sliced radishes. Serve immediately.

Roasted corn and tequila salsa : In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup roasted corn kernels, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons tequila and a pinch of finely chopped, seeded habanero or serrano chile pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole with roasted corn : Using a molcajete or a mortar and pestle, mash 1 small clove garlic and a pinch sea salt. Transfer to a bowl and add juice from 1/2 lime, 1 avocado scooped from its peel, 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion and finely chopped fresh cilantro to taste. Using a fork or 2 knives held crisscross fashion, gently cut or mash the ingredients to desired consistency. Gently stir in 1/3 cup roasted corn. Taste and season with salt, pepper and additional lime juice.

Roasted corn and bitter greens saute : In a large skillet over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon of mild olive oil. Add a few handfuls of torn bitter greens, such as arugula or radicchio, and toss just until they wilt slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and toss again. Scatter roasted corn over the top and serve immediately.

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