Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Corn for the Gold

It’s amazing to consider the epic change that occurs amongst the world’s inhabitants every two years. Suddenly people like me, who don’t outwardly show much pride in their country on a normal daily basis, are standing in front of their television, pumping their fists, and shouting Go! Go! GO! USA! USA! Suddenly I don’t mind watching sports in the least bit; I actually enjoy it and take the time to really appreciate and admire the skills and extraordinary physical fitness of the athletes, our real-life action superheroes. And suddenly, fun stories like these arrive on the Internet.

I’ve been slightly bitter about the Olympics this time around, however. The incessant and ever-constant images of London, my second home, on the TV screen bring out this intense yearning that pulls at my very heartstrings. I’m unnecessarily jealous of all of the American tourists that are there while I am not. Though I know it is currently a very different London right now than I probably remember, I’d do anything to be there all the same. Yet despite my affections for the host country, I am still automatically rooting hard-core for the American athletes and getting slightly emotional whenever they play our national anthem at a medals ceremony. What can I say; the Olympics bring out different sides of people.

For example, they make me want to do things like work out more (though I think that applies to everyone) or take up hobbies like archery or skeet shooting. Also, counterproductive to the previously mentioned urges, they really make me want American food, as if summer didn’t already create that craving. So to embrace these few weeks of hyper-Americanism, I am cooking and eating in the fashion of the US of A. It’s BLT’s for lunch, burgers for dinner, and a craving for all things barbeque. And of course you can’t have American cuisine with out the summer favorite, those golden ears of milky and juicy sweet corn.

Just last week I had grilled corn for the first time ever. I placed the ear or corn on my plate, not thinking twice about the blistered and blackened kernels, freckling the cob with a gap-toothed grin. The remaining kernels, on second thought, looked different too. Were they deeper yellow than I remembered, a glistening golden hue almost shimmering like the light of sunset?  One bite was enough to inform me that this corn was on a totally different playing field than its boiled or steamed alternative. Grilling corn somehow intensifies the flavor by a tenfold. It’s sweeter, but not overwhelming; it’s a sophisticated sweet. It’s like caramel that has been cooked to the point right before it begins to burn where it becomes concentrated and smoky. The individual kernels swell with steam and boiling juices so that this caramelized liquid bursts the moment it hits the impact of the teeth. I unashamedly sucked the juices from the empty cobs to savor every bit of the new and mind-blowing flavor. From now on, it’s so long to boiled corn. Grilling is my method of choice now.

Its amazing how roasting and grilling, that high heat and that little bit of fire and smoke, can turn what may be a perfectly delicious vegetable or fruit into something that just simply goes above and beyond. It creates the Olympic athletes of food, with flavor that, like the athlete’s skills, seem almost beyond possibility. And it may just me my own opinion, but I think that grilled corn gets the gold every time.

Grilled Corn (and an optional salad preparation)

3 ears of corn with husks attached

for roasted corn and goat cheese salad (serves two)
corn cut from the 3 ears
2 Tbs. softened butter
salt and pepper
¼-½ tsp of cumin
zest of half a lime
½ cup cherry or pear tomatoes, halved
¼ cup goat cheese
½ cup dry spelt or other grain of choice, cooked according to package instructions
a handful of arugula
juice of half a lime

Soak the corn in water for about 15 minutes. Then after taking them out and shaking them dry, carefully peel back the husk of the corn down to the bottom so that they remain intact and pull off the inner silks. Brush the corn with a little olive oil and pull the husks back up. Place the corn onto a preheated grill with a medium flame. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. While the corn cooks combine the butter, salt, pepper, desired amount of cumin, and lime zest in a bowl and mash into a paste.

Once the corn is cooked, remove from the grill and place onto a platter. Carefully peel back the husks and brush the butter mixture onto the hot corn. You can also place the naked corn back onto the grill for a few more minutes if you want more caramelization. Remove the husks completely and then cut off the kernels of the corn into a bowl. Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, grains, arugula, and lime juice to the bowl and toss to combine. Add any additional salt and pepper to taste.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is so I love... :) Thanks for the recipe.