It’s sweet corn season, and as fresh corn doesn’t travel well, now is the time to buy it at your farmer’s market. As a kid growing up on a Minnesota farm, I ate a lot of corn at this time of year. We had staggered plantings in our garden, and most years we grew 30 or 40 acres of sweet corn on contract for Green Giant, as did many of our neighbors. Our modus operandi was to put a large pot of water on the stove, go out to garden or field, pick and shuck the corn on site, return to the kitchen, by which time the water had boiled, in went the corn for a bare five minutes. Elapsed time from garden to table: less than twenty minutes. We cooked a huge pot of corn for lunch nearly every day during corn season, knowing what we didn’t eat would be intently consumed by our farm cats who loved corn as much as we did. They were a sight, chomping kernels from the cob, using a paw to hold the corn in place.
My complaint with most corn in the markets is that it is picked too mature, the natural corn sugars having already turned to starch. When shopping for corn, you don’t necessarily want the fattest, heaviest ears. Ears with smaller, less mature kernels may prove to be sweeter and more tender. In the next few weeks I’ll be offering recipes for fresh sweet corn, beginning today with Sweet Corn-Millet Croquettes (recipe after the jump)…
FRESH SWEET CORN-MILLET CROQUETTES
3 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup millet, washed and drained
2 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (cut from two large ears of corn)
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, grated
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar (or to taste) or substitute 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or to taste
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped green onions or parsley
canola or olive oil, or a combination
Heat a little bit of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. When the oil is hot, add the millet and sauté two minutes, add the onions and sauté 2-3 minutes, then add the corn, carrots and garlic, sauté another 2-3 minutes (stirring constantly). Season with just a little sprinkle of umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add the boiling water, cover, turn down the heat to very low and cook about 30 minutes (after 20 minutes, check to see that the pot is not scorching, add more water if needed). After 30 minutes, add the green onions or parsley, mix thoroughly, uncover and allow to cool enough so you can handle it. Check the seasoning, and adjust. Take out half of this mixture and process in your food processor. Add it back into the pot, and mix together well with the unprocessed half. Wet your hands and form six equally-sized croquettes. Heat a generous quantity of oil in a large skillet and fry over medium-high heat five minutes on a side or until golden-brown and crisp on the surface. Alternatively, you could brush them very lightly with oil and bake in a 350º F oven, about 40 minutes, turning them over after 20 minutes. Either way, you want a caramelized and crunchy surface to contrast with the soft interior. Serve with your favorite sauce or gravy, or with chive mayonnaise (see below).
1 cup mayonnaise or veganaise (vegan mayonnaise)
1 small bunch fresh chives, snipped small
1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar or to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.