So many ways to enjoy corn

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 16, 2014

Corn is the giant of the Southern garden, not only in size but also in importance. No other crop is more versatile or more important to the traditional Southern diet. Every inch of a cornstalk had its uses, from the grains to the cobs to the stalks to the shucks. Corn, both fresh and dried, was our grain, cereal, vegetable, flour, and fodder and the basis or our best liquors-bourbon and moonshine.

Farmers and gardeners saw the value of corn over wheat. Unlike wheat, corn can be grown as a field crop or as a garden item. Acre for acre, corn has a much higher yield than wheat and requires less manpower. Corn has a shorter growing cycle, produces throughout the growing season, and can handle heat and direct sunlight. It could be used and sold fresh, dried, preserved, or processed into other products, which made it versatile as food and as a commodity. It is little wonder that corn was the largest single crop grown in the antebellum South.

Imagine our tables and our recipes which no sweet corn, gritted corn, dried corn, cornmeal, hominy, or grits. For corn we should remain truly grateful.

If there is a rule for eating corn, it is to eat it as soon as possible after it is picked. For many years many people boiled their corn because they were eating starchy, chewy field corn that needed some aggressive cooking. Today, most of us steam corn in the microwave. All you have to do is remove all of the tough outer husks, leaving only the thin, moist, pale green, inner husk that covers the kernels. The inner husk holds in the moisture and creates a little steam as the corn cooks. If your corn is already naked, wrap each ear in a lightly dampened white paper towel. Arrange the ears in a single layer in the microwave and cook for three minutes on high power and then let rest in the microwave until they are cool enough to handle, and cook for three minutes more Peel away the husks and brush off the silks with the damp paper towel.

Beyond adding butter and salt here are some great toppings to season your corn.

Chile Lime

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder

2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Shallot, Lemon, and Thyme

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme



8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

¼ teaspoon paprika


Garlic and Lemon

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leafed parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper


My husband loved his mother’s fried corn. Just coat the kernels with butter and fry for a few minutes. I like corn with other vegetables so here is a recipe with peas or lima beans.




2 cups fresh lima beans or peas

4 fresh thyme sprigs

½ small onion

1 garlic clove

1 ½ cups diced sweet onion

4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Place lima beans or peas, thyme sprigs, onion half, and garlic in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain beans, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid. Discard thyme sprigs, onion, and garlic.

Sauté diced onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Stir in corn; cook, stirring often, 6 minutes or until corn is tender.

Stir in beans and ½ cup reserved cooking liquid; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Stir in butter, add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with chives.