Grilled, it's great. Roasted, it's grand. You can even cook it up in the skillet.
It's too early to pack the car for a summer road trip, but you can get one of your favorite summer foods -- fresh sweet corn.
Corn was once available only in late summer. But, thanks to farmers in Florida and several other Southern states, fresh corn on the cob is available now through July in your supermarket.
Every region of the country has a special way to prepare fresh sweet corn. But, shucks, you won't need a compass or a roadmap to find American regional recipes. If it is the hot and spicy flavors of the great Southwest you crave, then just head to your nearest supermarket, pick up some corn on the cob and create Chipotle Chicken and Supersweet Corn Skillet, a low-fat, vegetable-filled meal in a bowl. This colorful meal goes together in less than 15 minutes.
Another quick main dish is Pan Roasted Corn and Salmon, featuring some prized ingredients of the Pacific Northwest, where salmon is king and apples are everywhere. Pan roasting is a quick technique to bring out and meld all the hearty flavors in this recipe.
If you are not preparing your corn the day of purchase, be sure to refrigerate husked ears in the high-humidity drawer of your refrigerator, wrapped loosely in plastic. Stored properly, fresh corn will last up to a week after purchase.
CHIPOTLE CHICKEN AND SUPERSWEET CORN SKILLET
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in 1-inch pieces
4ears fresh supersweet corn, husked, cut in 2-inch pieces
1medium zucchini, sliced crosswise (about 1-1/2 cups)
1medium onion, halved and sliced (about 1 cup)
3small plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in thin wedges
1 to 2 chipotles from a can or jar of chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped and 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce*
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add chicken; cook and stir until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add corn, zucchini and onion. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chipotles and salt. Cook, covered, until corn and chicken are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve in shallow soup bowls.
Yield: 4 portions
*Jarred or canned chipotles in adobo sauce, a smoky, mildly spicy pepper in sauce, are available in the Hispanic food section of most supermarkets. Leftover chipotles in the sauce can be frozen in small freezer bags or containers. Though the flavor will not be the same, 1 tablespoon of chili powder stirred into 2 tablespoons of catsup can replace the chipotles and the adobo sauce.
PAN ROASTED SWEET CORN AND SALMON
1tablespoon vegetable oil
1medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2large Golden Delicious apples (1 pound), cored and each cut in 6 wedges
11/2teaspoons finely chopped garlic
4ears fresh supersweet corn, huske
11/2pounds salmon, cut in 4 pieces
1/8teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4cup prepared oil and vinegar salad dressing
In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and apples; cook and stir until onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a bowl. To the same skillet, add corn and salmon, skin side up; sprinkle with salt and pepper.* Cook, turning corn occasionally, until hot, about 5 minutes. Turn salmon; add apple mixture and the dressing. Cover and cook to desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes longer.
Yield: 4 portions
*If your skillet is too small, cook in batches or use two skillets; add a teaspoon or two of oil as necessary.
Grilling corn on a cob is a popular way to prepare this all-American favorite. Chefs, cookbook authors and grill-masters suggest several ways for achieving perfect grilled corn on the cob. Remember, fresh supersweet corn cooks in about half the time as other sweet corn.
UHusk free: Remove the husks, brush corn with seasoned oil or butter, and grill on all sides over a hot fire until some of the kernels are browned, about 4 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally. A tip from Steven Raichlen, author of BBQ USA: Before grilling, pull back the husks, leaving them attached to the stem ends; remove the corn silk; tie husks with a piece of string to make a "handle" for eating the corn.
UIn the husk: Pull back the husks and remove the silks as described above. Recover the ears with the husks, securing at the top by twisting or tying with a string. Soak in water until the husks are well saturated, at least 30 minutes. Grill corn over a hot fire for 7 to 10 minutes. Thrill of the Grill authors John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger recommend giving corn on the cob "the taste of the fire" by removing the husks after grilling, brushing ears with butter and sprinkling with salt and pepper, then returning them briefly to the grill "just to add a little char."
UIn foil: Remove both husks and silks from corn on the cob. Brush with seasoned butter or oil, and wrap each ear completely in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Grill in the coals, turning frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, or on a rack over the fire for 7 to 10 minutes. In The Tailgate Cookbook author April Herbert stresses the importance of wrapping corn with the dull side of the foil out, since the shiny side reflects heat and slows cooking.
Source: Fresh Supersweet Corn Council
SUPER SWEET CORN AND PORK SKEWERS
3 ears fresh supersweet corn, husked
12 ounces pork tenderloin or boneless, cooked chicken breasts
2 small zucchini
2 small sweet red bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat grill or broiler. With a large, sharp knife, cut corn in 2-inch pieces and the pork, zucchini and bell peppers in 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Add pork and vegetables; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. On eight (10- to 12-inch) metal skewers, loosely thread pork and vegetables. Grill or broil, turning occasionally, until meat is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. If desired, serve with salad greens. Pork and vegetables can also be cooked "unskewered" on a grill rack or broiler pan, for 8 to 10 minutes, turning often.
SUPERSWEET CORN, SEAFOOD AND ZUCCHINI PACKETS
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium zucchini, cut in 2-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
4 ears fresh supersweet corn, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp and/or scallops
8 thin slices lemon
Preheat oven to 450 & deg;F or heat outdoor grill. In a large bowl, combine oil, garlic, thyme and salt. Add zucchini, corn and shellfish; toss. On each of four 14 x 18-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil, place a quarter of the sweet corn mixture in the center. Top with lemon slices. Draw together longer edges of foil and crimp, leaving room for steam to circulate; seal foil ends (or, divide mixture evenly among four ready-to-use single-portion foil bags).* Place packets in a single layer on a large baking sheet or on a rack in a grill. Bake or grill 15 minutes for shrimp or 20 minutes for scallops. Remove packets; let stand 5 minutes before opening.
*Can be refrigerated up to 4 hours or packed with ice in a cooler for up to 2 hours.
BUFFALO CORN EARS
Lisa Hill, Norwalk, CT
1st Place 2003 Fresh Ways with Supersweet Corn Recipe Contest
4 celery ribs, halved and sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 fennel bulb (stalks and leaves removed), thinly sliced
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup jalape & ntilde;o hot sauce
11/2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce (e.g., Tabasco)
11/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 ears fresh supersweet corn, husked
Blue Cheese Slather (recipe follows)
Preheat grill or broiler. Place celery and fennel in a bowl of ice water to crisp. To prepare Buffalo Corn Ears: In a small saucepan, melt butter with hot sauces. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Brush corn with seasoned butter mixture. On a rack, arrange corn; grill or broil until slightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes, turning ears and basting with remaining butter mixture. To serve: Drain celery and fennel. On 4 dinner plates place celery, fennel and Buffalo Corn Ears, dividing equally. Top corn with Blue Cheese Slather. Use remaining slather as a dip for the celery and fennel. Serve with grilled or fried chicken or fish, if desired.
Blue Cheese Slather: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces), 1/4 cup softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoons half and half and 1/4 teaspoon celery salt. Mash with a fork until fairly smooth.
CORN AND PEPPERONI SKILLET DINNER
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ears fresh supersweet corn, cut crosswise in 11/2-inch coblets
3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced
6 green onions (scallions), cut in 1-inch pieces
4 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
1 pound plum tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
In one or two skillets, heat oil. Add corn, zucchini, green onions and pepperoni. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND SUPERSWEET CORN SKILLET
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage links (hot or sweet, or a mixture), quartered
4 ears husked fresh supersweet corn, cut into thirds
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch squares (about 1 cup)
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch squares (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, cut in thin wedges (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add sausage; cook and stir until well browned, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss corn, peppers and onion with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, Italian seasoning and salt. Add corn mixture to sausage. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked through and vegetables are just tender, about 8 minutes.
ROASTED CHICKEN, CORN AND ZUCCHINI
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 large zucchini and/or yellow squash, quartered crosswise
2 large sweet onions, quartered
4 large ears fresh supersweet corn, quartered crosswise
8 green onions (scallions)
4 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs
Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a cup, combine oil, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. In a large shallow pan, toss squash and onions with half of the seasoned oil.
In a bowl, coat corn and green onions with remaining seasoned oil. On a rack in a broiler pan, place chicken; sprinkle on all sides with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Place the pan with the vegetables on the lower rack in the oven and the chicken on the upper rack. Roast for 25 minutes, turning vegetables and chicken occasionally. Add corn and green onions to the pan with the vegetables. Roast chicken and vegetables until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.