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Shuck, yes! It’s sweet corn time in New Jersey


Sweet corn season is in full swing in northern New Jersey. At Farm’s View Roadstand in Wayne (945 Black Oak Ridge Road) they’re picking their own, and by the looks of it, there’s more than enough to go around.

This is excellent news for the sweet corn-obsessed. One such customer declared it the happiest day of the year. “And that day in October, when they tell you it’s over? That’s the saddest.” he added.  For those of us who love it, nothing but fresh-picked local will do. We know there’s nothing sweeter. From the moment it’s picked, it becomes a race against time to get it from farm to fire to palate, before all that lovely sugar turns into tasteless starch. Farm’s View is doing their part, harvesting the ears every morning; it’s up to you to cook it by day’s end for the best flavor.

When corn season starts I’m thrilled, like many, to simply shuck, boil and butter. After a week or two, I turn to the grill. Three weeks in, and I start looking for recipes to change it up a little. In a month, I start getting really creative. It’s not that I get tired of it; it’s that I want to enjoy it as many different ways as I can before the endless corn-free part of the year begins in the fall. Here are a few ideas to keep the fresh corn experience exciting all summer long:

To boil corn, Farm’s View recommends bringing a large pot of water to a boil, and cooking the corn for three minutes. And seriously, when corn is this fresh, you’re only boiling it to heat it—it doesn’t need to be cooked.

When you find yourself with leftover corn, just cut it off the cob and toss the kernels with some halved cherry tomatoes, julienned fresh basil and some salt and pepper for a great cold side salad. Add a splash of your favorite vinegar if you think it needs a little lift.

When you grill corn, do yourself (and your fingers) a favor. It may look cool to grill the ears in the husk, but just think about peeling back those leaves and picking off all that silk while they’re still too hot to eat. Shuck the ears first, brush them with canola oil, season with salt and pepper, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Grill over medium-high heat, turning every five minutes, for fifteen minutes, and serve with a compound butter. Try adding to a stick of softened butter the zest of a lemon, lime or orange; 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs and/or finely chopped shallots, or even 4 tablespoons of maple syrup.

Serving corn off the cob just adds to the possibilities. Here’s one idea. Cut the kernels off four ears. In 2 tablespoons canola oil, sauté a chopped sweet onion until softened; add corn kernels and sauté one minute; add juice and zest of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.

Are you ready for corn off the hook? How about sweet corn ice cream? It’s good enough on its own, but it’s magical with Jersey blueberries. Try it with fresh blueberries, a blueberry compote, or on top of a warm blueberry cobbler.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream (adapted from Claudia Fleming’s book The Last Course, Random House, 2001)

Yield: about 1 quart

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, shucked

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

¾ cups sugar

9 large egg yolks

  1. Cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a large saucepan. Break cobs into thirds and add to pan along with milk, cream and ½ cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Remove cobs and puree the mixture with an immersion blender. Set aside to cool for one hour.
  2. Bring mixture back to a simmer, then remove from heat. In small bowl, whisk yolks with remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisk a cup of the hot corn mixture into yolks, then add yolk mixture to corn mixture, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 7 minutes.
  3. Pass custard through a sieve, pressing on the solids. Discard solids. Let custard cool, then cover and chill four hours or overnight. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cynthia Lynch can’t remember where her love of food began, but she does recall when it turned into a career. After several years of writing about food, wine and travel for a local publisher, she got bitten by the bug, went to culinary school in New York and started cooking in New Jersey restaurants. Eventually she was able to bring her food and writing experience together as the executive editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. A Passaic County native, today she spends most of her time with her four-year-old son looking for the best food the state has to offer—and the closer to home, the better.