Corn on the cob is at its most perfect (isn’t that a bit like saying “most unique”?) when you have picked the cobs yourself, carried them home, stripped off the outer leaves (or not), patiently removed all the silk (if you removed the leaves) and then cooking it immediately -as fresh as fresh can get.
Firstly, there is a plethora of types of corn. There are so many varieties in different parts of the world, it’s completely baffling. Most of us common consumers distinguish only three types of corn and it’s based on colour: white, yellow, and anything else. There are some really weird purple, almost black, varieties of corn, that are pretty, but I don’t think it’s going to find it’s way onto my dinner plate anytime soon.
In my neck of the woods the white corn is generally drier and more mealy in texture, bland tasting, and on larger cobs than yellow corn. However, sweet corn is also yellow and it is certainly the juiciest, sweetest and softest corn. So you have to look quite carefully at what you are buying, if you don’t have your own private corn patch in your backyard!
Once you have selected your corn there are two ways of preparing it – either with, or without, the leaves. If you intend to boil it, or add it to another dish, you remove the leaves and as much of the silk as you can. Bring the water to the boil with some salt, drop it in, and let simmer actively for about and hour. I know it’s done when I start smelling the corn. One thing to remember: empty the water immediately from the pot because it will stink quite a bit of you leave the water in which the corn has boiled in the pot.
Once it’s done, take the cobs out and let cool for a bit. It takes a while before you can eat it without burning your lips. Slather it with butter. Not margarine, butter. If you mean to add it to another dish, wait until it has cooled, then cut close to the cob and collect in a suitable container.
However, the best way is to leave the leaves and silk on, wrap it in foil and then cook it over an open fire. This means a fire made with wood or, in an emergency, charcoal. It does NOT mean a gas fire in one of those awful gas barbecues that adorn every American and Canadian deck. It takes skill and experience to turn the corn frequently so that you do not burn it, but still manage to cook the starch. When you peel off the foil, the leaves and silk come off quite easily too, and then, when you add the butter, you will enjoy a smoky, rich, filling meal that reminds you of what real food is all about!
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