Another wonderful side-dish to consider for your next barbecue is this creamy and zesty corn dish from Thomas Keller. The nice thing about this dish, rather than corn-on-the-cob, is that you can make it earlier in the day and have it ready to heat and serve when the steaks or hot dogs come off the grill.
It will be a while before fresh locally-grown corn is available here but there has been some wonderful Florida corn arriving at the grocery stores recently. My favorite is the bi-colored corn. I prefer to chose cobs that are not the biggest because that usually means they are younger and more tender. I always peel back the husk and poke a fingernail into a kernel to see if it pops with juice. Then I know I have found juicy, fresh corn.
Fresh corn kernels and corn juices are mixed with lime zest, lime juice, cayenne pepper, chives and a little cream to create a piquant corn dish that will hold it's own with any variety of grilled meats.
This is my favorite tool for removing kernels from a corn cob, the Corn Zipper. It makes removing corn kernels quick and easy!
Zesty and Creamy Summer Corn
Adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home and found in the Washington Post
This corn dish has 'attitude'. With the zesty lime, cayenne pepper and chives, there is a wonderful dimension of flavor with each bite. To make sure corn is still fresh when buying, pull back the husk and push a fingernail into one kernel. If it pops with juice, then it is fresh.
6 ears super-sweet white or yellow corn, shucked* and kernels removed with a large knife or Corn Zipper
1 large lime
3 tablespoons best-quality unsalted butter
1/2-3/4 heavy cream (or, as I did, substitute fat-free half & half to reduce calories)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I like to use a little more)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped thin chives
Over a large, rimmed baking sheet, use a sharp chef's knife to cut vertically down each ear of corn, slicing off the kernels. I love using my Corn Zipper for this step. Then scrape any remaining corn and corn 'milk' from each cob using a sturdy knife, pressing down while scraping from top to bottom of each cob.
Zest the lime, being careful not to include any pith. Then, cut the lime in half.
Melt the butter in a very large skillet (more than 12 inches across) or saute pan over medium heat. Add the corn and its juice. Squeeze 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice over the corn and season with salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes; the kernels should remain plump-looking yet any liquid in the skillet or pan should be evaporated.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the cream and add the cayenne and the lime zest. Mix well and cook for a few minutes, until the mixture appears slightly thickened yet the corn is still looking plump. Add up to 1/4 cup additional cream, if desired, for a creamier consistency.
Season with salt to taste; stir in the chives. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm.
* I like to remove any excess corn silk by holding each corn cob in my hands under running water in the sink. I use a gently twisting motion with each hand twisting in the opposite direction over the cob to dislodge any remaining silk.