This time of year is special.
Mid to late August is special because local corn is at its peak. The ears of corn are flowing in abundance from local farms, and they’re amazing. Local corn at this time of year is the best corn you’ll ever eat. The ears are large, the kernels plump, and it’s so sweet it tastes like candy.
I look forward to it every year, and I’m never disappointed. Now is the time to eat corn. Eat it every day. Pig out on it. Revel in it. Soon it will be gone, and we’ll be stuck eating frozen corn, or worse, canned corn. Or even worse, bland, tasteless corn on the cob from South America or whatever other far flung places it’s comes from.
I want to share a simple way to enjoy fresh corn that I recently discovered that is absolutely delicious. Of course you can drop corn on the cob into boiling water for a few minutes, then smother it with butter and salt. Throwing whole ears of corn on the grill is great too. But I’ve found a way to enjoy fresh corn that takes a little bit of work, because you have to cut it off the cob, but it’s worth it.
First a tip about cutting corn kernels off the cob. With a sharp knife in hand, attempting to cut off the kernels while precariously balancing the ear with your other hand, is a dangerous job. The other issue is the kernels fly everywhere and it makes a mess, wasting some of those precious golden orbs of deliciousness.
I’ve found the easiest way to cut corn kernels off the cob is to first chop off the end of the cob, so you have a stable, flat surface on the bottom of the ear. Then I take a small bowl and set it upside down into a large bowl. I set the corn on the small bowl and cut with a slow but steady motion down the cob. The large bowl collects the kernels preventing them from flying all over the place.
In a frying pan or (preferably) a well seasoned cast iron pan set to medium high heat, drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Throw in the freshly cut-off-the-cob kernels of 2 ears of corn and quickly season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes tops.
The short cook time leaves the kernels still crisp and crunchy while taking off the raw edge. The olive oil and pepper nicely balance out the sweetness of the corn. When I first discovered this I was shocked at how good fresh corn cooked in olive oil tasted. It’s makes a fantastic side dish. But it’s so good, you’ll want to toss the whole pan of corn into a bowl and eat it all on its own.