Celebrate sweet corn season in Nebraska
When July meets August, wherever I am standing on the planet, I hunger for fresh Nebraska sweet corn. Fresh holds a bushel of meaning for us Nebraska sweet corn connoisseurs. Fresh sweet corn is picked by hand at sunrise and carted to a vegetable stand in a nearby town where a grower sells hundreds of ears by noon of the same day.
All of us in towns under ten thousand in Nebraska live within 20 miles of a grower selling their fresh-picked corn under the umbrella of their sweet corn stand. Nebraska Rural Foodies features sweet corn this time of year because the first sweet corn of the season is a reason to celebrate.
Corn on the cob is like candy from the field
To prepare the first corn of the season, we simply husk the ears, wash to remove the silks and drop into a boiling pot of water to simmer for six minutes. I spread butter over the kernels on the cob and sprinkle it with salt. I then take a first bite, then another and another. Can you spot the juice dripping from my chin?
By the second or third day, I roast the sweet corn on the grill. Prepare a hot grill, clean the grate, oil the grate, roast until slightly charred, turning the cobs often. My daughter-in-law, who is of Iranian descent, pleases us when she finishes the roasting process with an Iranian flair by dunking the roasted, charred corn in boiling salt water to plump the kernels. The water adds a touch of salt to accentuate the sugar of the corn. Roast plenty since the leftovers turn into a favorite black bean salsa dressed with fresh lime juice.
Recipes to enjoy sweet corn many different ways
Condiments to compliment corn include: salt, butter, cream, cumin, cilantro, fresh lime and maple syrup. The list is long. Sweet corn lends its slightly sweet and slightly grass flavor to meat, poultry or pork and stands out at a barbecue where it may be smoked and charred on the grill.
A few favorite recipes for sweet corn are published below. Thanks to my neighbor Lisa Zinnecker for her Black Bean Salsa recipe.
Black Bean Salsa
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 c. steamed, boiled, or grilled fresh corn
1 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. tomato, fresh, chopped
½ cup green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped fine, or more, according to your taste
Blend all ingredients together and chill.
Approximately makes 6 fritters, enough for 2 people. Double or triple the recipe for more.
1 ½ cups corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 green onion, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. half and half
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt
Combine eggs, half and half, onion and corn
Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Do not over mix. The mixture needs to be loose enough to relax in the pan, but not so much liquid that it runs. Adjust liquid accordingly.
Heat about 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a medium-sized skillet. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add a ladle of fritter mixture, fry until brown and turn. Fry until the fritter feels firm to the touch. My skillet allows space to fry four fritters at one time. Place hot fritters on a paper tower to absorb extra oil.
Serve hot with syrup or room temperature with a savory salsa.