Monday, September 22, 2008

September Corn

I usually think of "corn season" as coming to a conclusion at the end of August. By September I remember my parents always commenting that it was "past prime"in upstate New York. Well, this year, here in Connecticut, I'm still getting lots of fantastic fresh corn from the farmers markets! Because my family loves corn so much, I make sure to get it every week. This week I've been using corn to make lots of variations on this corn salad (which I featured on my other blog, Season to Taste), but also eating it right on the cob.

Recently, I was at Dish Supper Club in Bridgeport, CT, which served corn-on-the-cob on the side of a wonderful clam bake. Usually, restaurant corn-on-the-cob is overcooked from being kept warm in big pots of hot water for way too long. Then it is lathered with way too much butter, making it a mess to eat. Not this restaurant's corn---it was expertly cooked and served right away. The butter was lightly brushed on, and then it was sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese and a touch of Ancho chili powder - not chipotle chili powder as I erroneously reported in a previous post. Yup--- I realized that error after a lip-burning corn experience fit for someone with a mouth far more tolerant than my own. Note to self: Ancho chilies=3,000 units of heat. Chipotle chilies=15,000 units of heat. Sometimes my brain interchanges those two peppers---but my mouth certainly did not.

Ancho chili peppers are a mild chili that lend great color and a somewhat sweet flavor to Mexican-inspired dishes. You can buy them whole and dried (and can reconstitute them in hot water then chop), or you can purchase the ground variety. I always keep a jar of ground Ancho chili powder on hand which I add to stews and chilis. It is readily available in the dried spice aisle of most grocery stores.
Chipotle peppers are much hotter, and can be found whole and dried, ground, or canned in "adobo" sauce (a tomato based sauce). They are very smoky in flavor, and add a nice kick to whatever you're cooking. They are most commonly found in Mexican and southwestern cuisine. You can certainly sprinkle ground chipotle pepper on lots of dishes (like the corn), but shake sparingly or else you'll end up running for the water pitcher.
Give your corn a little kick---- Ancho for the mild-mouthed cooks, and Chipotle for the spicier set!

Corn on the Cob with a Kick
Serves 4
4 ears of corn, husked
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Sprinkle of ground Ancho chili pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sugar to water, and then add corn cobs.
Cook for 7-9 minutes (depending on desired consistency--- less time for crunchier corn, more for chewier)
Remove from pot, drain off excess water, and lightly brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese and a touch of chili powder.
Serve immediately.

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