Corn off the cob: Try recipes minus the mess

News-DemocratJuly 29, 2013 

Like hot dogs and apple pie, not only do we think of corn on the cob as a truly American food, but also as one almost exclusively eaten during the summer.

We search it out at roadside stands, farmers markets and local grocers, hoping to hear that it's been locally grown.

And while many of us love to slather on the butter and salt and don't mind the mess of eating it on the cob with our fingers, there comes a time when we need to wipe our buttery fingers, put down the toothpick and give some recipes that call for corn off the cob a whirl.

White or yellow corn? It's your preference.


We've put men on the moon but have yet to come up with a perfect corn de-kerneler -- one that cleans a freshly shucked cob neatly while not shooting kernels all over the kitchen.

Sure, there are at least a dozen clever implements (variously called strippers, kernelers, zippers, cutters and peelers) designed to do the job. None seem to work as well as a sharp knife and steady hand. Even that has its own problems: Holding that cob upright and steady while cutting off the kernels can be a challenge. Containing the kernels that shoot off the cob as you cut still another.

To solve the slippery cob-on-counter issue, "Heather Christo's Generous Table: Sharing the Love of Good Food With Friends and Family" (Kyle Books, $29.95) suggests: "Cut corn on a clean dishcloth. It keeps the kernels from bouncing around after they have been sliced from the cob. I also like to use a serrated knife -- it makes cutting kernels off the cob easier."

And while other cooks like using a shallow bowl, our favorite cob de-kerneling tip comes from Lisa Schumacher of the Chicago Tribune's test kitchen: Using a Bundt pan, that tube pan with fluted sides, she positions a shucked ear of corn, stem down, into the tube's opening. With a sharp knife, she cuts straight down the cob's length to remove the kernels that drop into the pan. OK, 98 percent did when we tried it. But what's a few kernels when you have to deal with several ears full?


4 thin-skinned waxy potatoes

4 shucked ears of corn

1/2 pound trimmed string beans

1 finely chopped shallot

a handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Put potatoes in a pot of salted cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

While potatoes cook, add corn to the pot; cook 3-5 minutes. Remove corn from water; cool.

Add string beans to pot; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Scoop beans out of pot with a slotted spoon; cool quickly in a bowl of ice water.

Drain potatoes when tender; about 20 minutes depending on size.

Cut corn off cob into a large bowl.

Cut potatoes into slices or chunks. Add to bowl.

Drain green beans, add to bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and toss gently. Adjust seasonings, adding more oil if needed. Servings: 4 to 6.

Adapted from "Canal House Cooks Every Day" by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer


6 large heirloom tomatoes

4 ears corn

1/2 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/2 jalapeno, finely minced

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cut tops off tomatoes. Gently cut around inside edge of each tomato; use a spoon or your hands to scoop out most of the insides (reserve for another use) creating a cup.

Sprinkle insides with salt and pepper.

Cut off kernels from corn and place in a large bowl.

Add rest of ingredients and gently mix to combine; season with salt. Spoon salad into tomato cups. Transfer to a platter. Garnish with fresh chive blossoms or another edible blossom (such as nasturtiums). Serve at room temperature. Servings: 6.

Adapted from "Heather Christo's Generous Table"

This recipe can be eaten on or off the cob.


12 ears corn, with husks

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat grill. Place corn ears in their husks over low-burning coals (or over low heat on a gas grill) and cover the grill. Cook corn, turning occasionally, until it is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer corn (still in husks) to a serving platter.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until it is melted.

Stir in chili powder and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and chili powder is fragrant, less than 1 minute.

Transfer chili powder mixture to a food processor, then add honey, cilantro, remaining 6 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Transfer chili-cilantro butter to a bowl and serve with corn. Or, remove corn from cob and mix with butter in bowl and serve. Makes 12 servings.

"The Farm" by Ian Knauer


2 ears shucked corn

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 green onions

1 avocado, peeled, halved, and pitted

1 large red bell pepper

1 large poblano chile

Cooking spray

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 can (15 ounces) unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat grill to high heat. Brush corn with 2 teaspoons oil. Place green onions, avocado, bell pepper, poblano and corn on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill onions 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Grill avocado 2 minutes on each side or until well marked. Grill bell pepper 6 minutes on each side or until blackened; peel. Grill corn 12 minutes or until beginning to brown on all sides, turning occasionally.

Cut kernels from ears of corn; place in large bowl. Chop onions, bell pepper and poblano; add to bowl. Add 4 teaspoons oil, cilantro and next 5 ingredients; toss well. Cut avocado into thin slices; place on top of salad. Makes 6 servings.

"Cooking Light Pick Fresh Cookbook"


3 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/2 pound red bliss or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups fresh corn kernels (or thawed frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

3 cups chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken

1 cup purchased salsa

1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

Chopped fresh cilantro or basil, to garnish (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange the corn tortillas on a baking sheet, then mist them with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin, the chili powder and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tortillas. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into thin strips. Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven until they are golden and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan over medium, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Add the potatoes, corn and chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture (mostly solids) to a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add the chicken and salsa and cook until just heated through. Add salt and lime juice, to taste, and water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.

Divide between 4 serving bowls and garnish each portion with some of the tortilla strips and cilantro, if desired.

Servings: 4, each with 400 calorie, 12 grams fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 39 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 34 grams protein, 1,140 mg sodium.

Chef Sara Moulton


4 ears corn

2 bell peppers, green or red, seeded and diced

2 celery stalks, finely sliced

1 red chile, seeded and sliced

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 cups white wine vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Strip kernels from corn cobs using a sharp knife. Blanch them in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain well. Put corn and other -ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir. Simmer gently, stirring, for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning, then spoon into warmed sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. The relish should be a spoonable consistency and wetter than a chutney. Cover, seal with non-metallic or vinegar-proof lids, and heat-process for 5 minutes, then label. Once opened, store jars in refrigerator. Makes 2 large jars.

"Vegetables Please" by Carolyn Humphries


10 ears corn

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Cut kernels off corn and place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Pour into prepared dish and bake 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

"The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook" by Diane St. Clair

Spicy Cornbread

1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, undrained

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 packages (8.5 ounces each) corn muffin mix

1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dressing, chilies, eggs and ground red pepper in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients; mix just until moistened.

Pour into greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tip: Can add 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese to corn muffin mix.

For muffins: Prepare as directed, spooning batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. or until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen. If using 9-inch square baking pan, bake 30 minutes.

Roasted Corn and Avocado Salsa

2 ears of corn

2 ripe avocados

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

lemon or lime

1/8 tsp. chipotle chili powder

Set oven to broil. Line baking sheet with foil. Remove husks from corn; cut avocados in half and remove seed. Rub corn and avocado lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil, turning as needed until uniformly charred. Avocados will finish before corn. When cool enough to touch cut corn from cob, remove avocado from skin and cube. Combine corn, avocado, cilantro, chipotle chili powder and the juice of 1 lemon or lime.

Shrimp Pasta with corn basil and chives

1/2 pound or 16-20 count shrimp, peel and deveined and butterflied

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced,

2 ears of corn (cooked), kernels removed

1/2 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 box penne, cooked al dente

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Fresh herbs chopped (basil, chives, tarragon, parsley)

Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant; add chopped tomatoes and saute.

Add shrimp and lemon juice and cook 2-3 minutes, until shrimp are no longer translucent; add corn.

Toss in cooked pasta, turn off heat, add 1/4 cup pasta water, Parmesan and fresh herbs.

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