You Can Grow It: Sweet corn

Jim Duthie and Chef Lou Aaron show us a delicious way to enjoy corn.

It’s getting close to dinner time, and we want to warn you that this will make you start getting hungry!  Don’t you love the taste of fresh, crunchy sweet corn?

Corn is popping up in stores and at roadside stands across Idaho right now, and maybe you’ve picked a few ears out of your own garden.

Today on "You Can Grow It," garden master Jim Duthie tells us a little about corn, and welcomes Chef Lou Aaron to the KTVB kitchen with a delicious way to enjoy this wonderful taste of summer.

One of the great things about late summer in Idaho is all of the fresh local sweet corn that’s available.  You might even be growing some in your own garden.”

Corn is native to America, where it’s been grown for thousands of years. It likes warm weather with plenty of water. Corn is monoecious, which means that there are male and female flowers on each plant.

The tassle at the top of the plant is the male flower. The female flower is along the stalk, and forms the ear.  Pollen shakes loose from the tassles and drops onto the thread-like silks of the female flower. Each thread or silk is connected to a single kernel, and each kernel must be pollinated in order to form. If not, you’ll have an incomplete ear of corn.

Most corn grown in the home garden produces one or two ears per stalk. It’s best planted in several short rows or blocks in order to maximize pollination.

Today there are nearly 200 varieties of sweet corn alone, not to mention other varieties of field corn, popcorn, and ornamental corn.

We’ve brought in Chef Lou Aaron from Westside Drive-In, and he’s going to tell us how we can eat this tasty summer treat. What are we going to make? 

“A lot of people just boil the corn and roast the corn, and that’s pretty standard,” said Chef Lou. “So we’re going to do a corn pancake and some fresh corn salsa. So I’ve got the salsa over here and the corn cakes over here, so let’s get going Jim.

Most people know how to make salsa, but there’s nothing really different in here other than the corn.”

The salsa is easy to make, using a lot of fresh garden ingredients. Add some chopped tomatoes, some minced red onions, and some jalapenos.

“Now, you can use fresh jalapenos or any kind of pepper you want,” said Chef Lou. “I just like the pickled ones in this salsa. For some reason that pickled flavor of the jalapenos goes good with the corn.”

Add to the salsa some chopped cilantro, green onions and garlic. And, of course, the corn.  This corn was cut right off the cob, so it adds a nice crunch. Finish off the salsa with some salt, lime juice and some olive oil.

“And that just binds everything together.  And it’s really colorful and flavorful,” said Chef Lou. “Those jalapenos add a nice pop to it. The cilantro…. You want to let that set for about 30 minutes before you really start digging into it.  It goes great with corn chips, or it’s going to go really good with these pancakes we’re going to make. Oh yeah. It smells so good, too.”

“OK, we’ve got the salsa made. So let’s take a look at the pancakes. These are corn pancakes?”

“Yeah, these are corn pancakes. Basically, they’re the same ingredients as regular pancakes, except we’re going to add some cornmeal.”

Since straight cornmeal can make the batter gritty, Lou uses equal amounts of cornmeal and flour.

“So we start with the cornmeal, then flour….”

Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix them together.

Next comes the wet ingredients: buttermilk, egg and melted butter.

“OK, so you mix that together.  And now we have the fresh corn, and again this is straight off the cob, not cooked.”

Add some pepper and chopped onions.

“So there’s our pancake batter. And you cook them just like a pancake. You got it – just cook them just like a pancake.”

“You get your pan, your griddle, or whatever you want, and make them as thick or as thin as you want. I like them a little thin.”

Once it starts to bubble, flip it over so each side is golden brown.

“And then they’re done and we have these beautiful corn pancakes with this corn salsa.  And I’m telling you, you’d better try some, Jim, because I’m going to try some.”

“The smell is incredible.  You taste a lot of corn, don’t you? Great way to use up that summer treat. Really good.”

 

Chef Lou’s Fresh Corncakes w/Corn Salsa


Ingredients & Method                                                  

Combine and mix
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Black pepper to taste

Then whip in
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup melted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon minced green onion
½ to ¾ cup fresh corn (off the cob)

To Cook
Heat a griddle or a nonstick pan. You can use a nonstick spray or butter to cook the cakes with. Ladle 1/3 cup batter onto griddle and cook until the outside edges start to bubble. Flip cake over carefully and cook an additional minute. Remove cake from griddle and repeat process until all batter is used. Makes about 6 corncakes. 

Corn Salsa

Ingredients
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup assorted tomatoes diced
1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh corn (off the cob)
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely minced red onions
½ cup finely minced green onions
½ cup finely diced Anaheim or jalapeno (or mixed) peppers

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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