A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Succotash and Microwaving Sweet Corn

So, as I mentioned in a comment below, we recently heard from Lawson's dad that microwaving fresh corn is way better than boiling it. I looked up several recipes, did some experiments, and found that he is absolutely correct. I'm a convert.

All the prep I did was to cut off the messy tip of the husks with scissors. I didn't pull the silk out -- I just cut off the whole silk-and-husk part that was hanging off the end. I pulled off a few banged-up outer leaves from some ears, but not all. Mostly this was so the corn would fit in our microwave.

Then I microwaved the corn for 4 to 5 minutes, rotating the ears once halfway through. If I put more than two or three ears in at a time, I would increase the cooking time by a few minutes.

Use gloves to rotate and remove the ears -- that corn gets hot, and little pockets of steam in the husks can burn the heck out of your hand.

Let the corn sit for 10-15 minutes so it can steam and cool off, then pull off the husks and silk. The best part: shucking cooked ears is way easier than shucking them raw. And the corn flavor is intense.

I didn't even put butter or salt on this corn, it was so good. It was from somewhere in the Upstate; Lawson's dad brought back 8 ears for us, and I've been wishing for more ever since.

Mostly we ate it plain, but one night I made succotash with all fresh ingredients. It was among the freshest, purest, most summery foods I've ever cooked.

I didn't like any of the recipes I read, many of which called for bacon, which I thought would be wrong here. Fresh lima beans or butter beans might have been good, but I liked the sweetness of the dish without them. So here's my recipe:


1-2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups fresh tender okra, sliced crosswise into 1" pieces
2 or more cups fresh tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
2 ears fresh sweet corn, microwaved and set aside to cool

Saute the onion in butter over medium until soft, not brown. Saute okra lightly. Add tomatoes and let cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until thickened slightly -- you want to keep the tomatoes tasting fresh, not sauce-like. At the last moment, shuck the cooked corn, cut the kernels off, and stir them in. Add salt to taste.

No herbs, no pepper, no nothing -- this is all about the light, sweet flavors of the garden vegetables. It blew me away.

We ate it with buttermilk biscuits (made with Adluh self-rising flour and local buttermilk) and barbecued chicken (marinated in soy sauce with star anise and five-spice powder, then lovingly grilled over a hickory fire by Lawson.

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