Fresh and sweet summer corn
has a short season here,
I like making the most of it!
|About as sweet and fresh as you can get...|
Those were the days ~ growing up on the farm, running outside to our own sweet corn field, picking a few ears for Mom to boil quickly for lunch or dinner, maybe even breakfast, if she had her way!
I definitely took the abundance of fresh vegetables, fruit and meat for granted and didn’t realize how lucky I was until years later.
By the way, as you're driving down the road here in the Midwest, and you're seeing acre after acre of corn, don't assume you can leap out of the car and grab a dozen ears of sweet corn for your next meal. Chances are, it's field corn...
|Gravel road by a corn field|
Sweet corn and field corn are cousins with very different tastes, different purposes.
Sweet corn is harvested when the silks at the top of the ear are brown, when the kernels inside are fully developed. The leaves wrapping around the ears are nice and green, with a little brown at the edges maybe. Perfect for any meal!
|Field of sweet corn|
|Sweet corn ear on the stalk|
Field corn, aka cow corn, not so sweet, nor does it taste as good right off the cob. Corn has a very high moisture content and field corn needs to dry out while the ears are still on the stalk.
Silks commence to turn dark brown, shucks around the ears turn brown, the remainder of the corn plant dies, turning brown. Finally, instead of being supported by the main stalk, ears fall with the silks pointing toward the ground. That's the farmers' indicator to harvest.
|Harvest time - Illinois field corn|
Field corn kernels are a darker yellow and larger than sweet corn kernels. Some of them have "dimples," another sign that the kernels have dried out; hence the name, "dent corn."
Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, deer and other wild animals love the taste of field corn ~ you want to attract Cardinals to your bird feeder? Attach an ear to it!
Field corn is also the corn that is processed into corn meal or corn flour, and used in foods that have corn as an ingredient, such as corn flakes, and tortilla chips.
And then, there's popcorn, another story...
Back to this recipe that’s slightly adapted from Fine Cooking magazine:
This is an easy, savory side dish that you can whip up quickly.
Uncooked corn? Yes! Just cut it off the cob raw. It cooks quickly and is delicious prepared this way with the mushrooms and onion.
The balsamic vinegar punches up the flavor in the vegetables, and the olive oil on the onion and butter to stir-fry the corn adds a dose of richness to the dish.
While you’re grilling the onion for this tasty side dish, throw some chicken, steak or fresh tuna on the grate also: Voila, Dinner!
Buttery Balsamic Corn with Mushrooms and Grilled Onion
1 small Vidalia onion or red onion, cut into 3 or 4 slices
1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces button mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
3-4 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, more to taste
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare a medium-high grill fire.
Rub onion slices with a little olive oil, and grill, turning occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.
Remove from the grill and coarsely chop.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Add mushrooms, season well with salt and cook until light browned and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add corn, onion, remaining butter and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and more vinegar.