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Summertime Creamed Corn

Updated February 23, 2016
(1 Votes)

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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

There’s no point in making creamed corn unless you use fresh corn—frozen kernels are just not worth the effort. Standard creamed-corn recipes simply use cream or half-and-half, but mine uses a luxurious Bechamel Sauce that enhances the corn’s fresh-picked sweetness without overwhelming any of its natural good taste. Fried chicken is our staff ’s favorite main dish, but when I make it I always struggle to decide whether to serve it with creamed corn or Creamed Spinach. Each side has its champions.

Double-Cutting Corn:

With this technique, corn kernels are removed from the cob in two steps. Holding an ear of corn upright, use a sharp knife to slice down the ear, cutting the kernels in half. Do this around the entire ear. Then slice down the ear a second time, being careful not to cut into the cob, to remove the rest of the kernels and to scrape the milk from the cob. Each ear of corn will yield 1/3 to ½ cup of kernels.

Serves4 to 6

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Moodblue

Taste and Texturecreamy, rich, savory, sweet

Type of Dishvegetable

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (6 to 8 ears; see Notes)
  • 2 cups Béchamel Sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A few gratings of nutmeg
  • Pinch of dried thyme leaves
  • Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

Instructions

Heat the oil in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the corn, béchamel, bay leaves, cayenne, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until everything is nice and creamy, about 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

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I'd have to have a pretty sharp palate to tell the difference between fresh-from-the-field corn and the really good corn that is flash-frozen at the time of harvest these days. I think the convenience of good frozen corn, either on the cob or a bag of kernels, is a fine substitute for fresh corn. The main drawback with frozen cot is a loss of "milk," which can be compensated by using a little cornstarch and water, or milk cream, or even a roux of flour and butter. Any of these substitutes will give you a nice thick syrup or thickened liquid that will work fine with frozen corn. With modern technology, frozen food doesn't have to be considered "low class" stuff like from the 50s. Unless your taste buds are made of gold, there won't be a noticeable difference in the final product.

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