It won’t be long before another corn season is behind us, here in Wisconsin. Then we will have to rely on frozen corn or corn that was picked thousands of miles away and shipped to us. I won’t even mention the canned stuff. The frozen stuff isn’t bad, in fact it often is a better choice than the “fresh” stuff in winter. At least the frozen stuff is picked at its peak of ripeness and processed within days of picking. The ears of corn you see at stores, in winter, were shipped thousands of miles to make it to the local megamart, and who knows how long ago it was picked. With corn that time is very important and crucial to the sweetness of it. Once corn is picked the sugars start converting to starches immediately. There’s some truth in that old saying that for the sweetest corn you need to cook it in the field! Within hours this process starts and within a few days the process is complete, turning a sweet, vibrant, ear of corn that’s full of flavor into something rather bland and boring. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been stuffing myself with fresh, locally grown corn with the knowledge that I won’t have that privilege much longer.
My favorite way to eat corn is grilled, on the cob. It’s a simple enough process, just soak fresh ears of corn in water for a few hours, then grill for about 20 minutes over a medium grill, turning constantly. Remove and allow the carryover heat to finish cooking it, in the husks for another 5-10 minutes. Peel, slather with butter, salt and pepper and enjoy.
Another one of my favorite ways to prepare corn is this Corn and Bacon Relish. This wonderful dish can be made year round as it doesn’t require absolutely fresh corn. Sure, with fresh, local corn, this dish is sublime, in my opinion, but there are enough other flavors going on that frozen corn makes a perfectly acceptable dish also. This relish makes a great garnish for fish (especially salmon and trout), pork or chicken. It works great on its own, as a side dish. It’s great stirred into mashed potatoes, and makes a wonderful garnish for a number of soups such as pumpkin or squash soup. The list of items it goes well is almost endless.
Corn and Bacon Relish
1 each Red Pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
3 cups Fresh Corn
2 slices Bacon, chopped
1/2 each Red Onion, small dice
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Thyme, fresh, leaves only, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. Chives, fresh, minced
1 Tbsp. Cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Sugar
In a large sauté pan render bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, but leave bacon fat in pan. Add a little veg. oil if necessary and sweat the onion and the garlic. When soft add the corn and sauté until done. Toss this in a bowl and add the bacon, peppers, herbs, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.