Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quick Corn Relish

Quick Corn Relish in ramekin with serving bowl, fork, and napkin in background

Jalapeño adds zip to this tangy side dish

Have a hankering for some old-fashioned corn relish? But forgot to preserve any fresh corn when it was in season? No problem. We’ve got you covered with this easy refrigerator corn relish.

This recipe uses frozen corn, which is generally high quality. It’s also available year round, so you can make this relish whenever the mood strikes. The entire process takes only a few minutes. And the flavor improves over time as the ingredients mingle, so you can mix it up days (or even weeks) before you plan to serve it.

The perfect make-ahead recipe for a big dinner, wouldn’t you say? It’s especially good when you have lots of other last-minute dishes to juggle. Like Thanksgiving, for instance.


Quick Corn Relish in white ramekin, overhead view on black

Recipe:  Quick Corn Relish

Although this dish tastes great immediately after you make it, the flavor really does improve if you give it at least a couple of days in the refrigerator. It’s also a recipe for which exact measurements aren’t critical—so you can adjust quantities or substitute ingredients to make this dish your own.

We like to serve this as a side dish, but it also makes a dandy appetizer. For years we made it in November, then served it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It dropped off the menu for a while as we tried other dishes. But now that we’ve made it again, you can bet this is one tradition we’re reviving!

This recipe is lightly adapted from one we found (decades ago) in the August 1978 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare, but the flavor is better if you allow it to chill for at least an hour before serving.

The yield is a bit under 2 cups (enough for 6 to 8 side-dish servings—the flavor of this relish is intense, so a little goes a long way). You can easily scale up this recipe if you’re feeding a crowd or just want to keep it on hand as a refrigerator staple for a month or two—it keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for weeks.

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups frozen corn (may substitute fresh cooked corn or canned corn)
  • 1 tablespoon water (for cooking corn)
  • ½ cup apple-cider vinegar (may substitute white vinegar)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Kosher salt (about half that amount if using regular table salt; see Notes)
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed (see Notes)
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seed (see Notes)
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (or to taste; optional)
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper (about 2 tablespoons chopped; may substitute green bell pepper if you prefer)
  • 1 or 2 green onions (scallions; you want about 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • ~2 tablespoons diced pimento (I use jarred pimento; see Notes for substitution)
  • jalapeño pepper slices for garnish (very optional)
Procedure
  1. Place the frozen corn and a tablespoon of water in a microwave-safe covered dish and microwave until done (about 5 minutes for my microwave; your mileage may vary). When done, drain, and pour the corn into a small mixing bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, celery seed, yellow mustard seed, and hot pepper sauce (if using) in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer on medium stovetop heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. While the vinegar mixture is cooling, wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). You want about 2 tablespoons, but measurements needn’t be exact. Add the peppers to the mixing bowl with the corn, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
  4. Wash the green onions, peel off the outer skins, and chop off the root ends. Dice the onions finely until you have about 2 tablespoons (measurement needn’t be exact) and add to the mixing bowl with the corn. Then add the diced pimento to the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled vinegar mixture to the mixing bowl with the corn and stir briefly to combine. Pour the relish into an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I often like to garnish with a slice of jalapeño pepper when serving.
Quick Corn Relish in ramekin with fork and napkin in background

Notes
  • We’ve made this recipe with both frozen and canned corn (the original called for canned corn—use one 15-ounce can; drain and rinse corn before using). I prefer the dish with frozen corn, but canned works OK. And of course if you have fresh cooked corn available, that’s ideal.
  • We like to use Kosher salt in most recipes. But if you don’t have that on hand, you can use plain table salt (though I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher).
  • Although ½ teaspoon each of celery seed and yellow mustard seed works well in this recipe, you can increase the quantities of both by ¼ teaspoon or so and still have a well-balanced dish.
  • Yellow mustard seed is the variety that’s most widely available in the US. You may also see black and brown mustard seed in your market. I haven’t tried them in this dish (and their flavors are different), but they might make an interesting substitution.
  • This recipe cries out for spice experimentation. Cumin and coriander might substitute well for the spices we recommend (though we haven't tried them in this dish).
  • I generally use diced pimento for this recipe (the kind you find in jars at the supermarket), but you can substitute red bell pepper if you prefer. Just clean the pepper as you normally would, and cut into dice. The flavor will be better if you roast the pepper first, then peel off its skin.
Quick Corn Relish in ramekin with fork and napkin in background

Just Like Old Times

“Wow, this dish brings back memories,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I remember when we first made this.”

“Yeah, I think we had it for Thanksgiving the first year we were together,” I said.

“Did we even have a microwave then?” she asked.

“No, we had to use the stovetop for everything,” I replied.

“How crude.”

“There was no Google to look up substitutions either,” I added.

“And we had to walk to the grocery store,” she said. “Uphill both ways!”

“Of course, we still walk to the grocery store most of the time,” I pointed out. “Old timers like us need the exercise.”

“Yes, but remember—then there was a foot of snow every day,” she smiled. “Even in July!”

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Or check out the index for more recipes

100 comments:

  1. I love refreshing side dishes such as this corn relish! As a spicy food fanatic, this is right up my alley! Frozen corn is one of the few frozen vegetables I keep in my fridge from time to fime. I normally use it for quick stir-fry but I am glad to find another way of using it! Thanks a lot for sharing!!

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    1. Hi Yi, frozen corn and peas are two freezer staples for us - they both are good quality and work in so many dishes. This is a wonderful recipe,a nd easy to make even spicier! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I'll admit to you that I have a couple ears of fresh frozen corn in the freezer but, I don't think it would be enough for the dinner I'm making for Thanksgiving. I figure that justifies me saving it all for myself, lol...

    However, I do have corn on the menu and since I can't usually spice things up for me and Marion, I sure can for company! I'll be saving this John. I'm trying to have most things ready before company arrives and since this recipe is sure to improve with age (much like you and the mrs. I assume:) I'll give it a go!

    Thanks for sharing, John...Now I can check off another dish as done:)

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    1. Hi Louise, isn't this a great recipe? So tasty! I can definitely say the Mrs is improving with age! Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Great pics! I am crazy over corn so this would be a great dish to try...

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    1. Hi Denise, you really get to enjoy the flavor of corn in this dish. You'll taste all the other ingredients, too, but the corn really shines. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. John....such a beautiful side....full of color and flavor! I have been buying corn relish from Trader Joe's...and oddly, I add it to soups and stews that need a bit more flavor....but I'm just not sure how to doctor it! Now that you've shared your easy recipe....I can keep this on hand for myself! Oh..and Mrs. KR's neglected to point out that neither of you were wearing shoes! ;- }

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    1. Hi Anne, I've actually been toying with the idea of making a corn relish soup, although probably more of a chowder. So I like the idea of adding relish to soup! Haven't done it with a stew, though - I'll have to give that a try. And you're right that we weren't wearing shoes! Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I love the colour of this, great on a burger!

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    1. Hi Caroline, isn't this pretty? Love the idea of this on a burger! Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Oh, I can just imagine how absolutely scrumptious this is, John! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi Lizzy, this really is wonderful - a great dish. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Those were simpler days in my opinion. But corn relish is good now too, and we have to give frozen vegetables a lot of credit, they're really good. I especially like that this gets better after a few days. Jalapeño is the best, I love it. And I can imagine this on a chorizo or steak sandwich!

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    1. Hi Paula, I really like the idea of this on a chorizo or steak sandwich - brilliant suggestion! Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Hi John , what a delicious corn relish recipe to make ahead for the holidays , I keep frozen corn , peas and baby carrots in the freezer . Need only two words to describe this recipe , yummy and delicious , thanks for sharing :).

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    1. Hi Nee, this is indeed yummy and delicious. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Love corn relish.It has that wonderful zippiness that goes with so many things -- from fried chicken to grilled fish.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, corn relish and anything fried (or grilled) is a wonderful combo - such a nice contrast. Plus the color dresses up the plate. Thanks for the comment.

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  10. That's a great side dish, love the combination of sour and spicy.

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    1. Hi Vicky and Ruth, isn't this nice? So totally flavorful! Thanks for the comment.

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  11. August 1978, you must have been a baby, already checking out culinary magazines. I guess it's just in the blood! This sounds wonderful, I'm pinning it, will definitely try it. I always forget about the appetizer!

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    1. Hi Chris, yes, I was a child prodigy. ;-) It's really a nice dish - I think you'll like it. Thanks for the ocmment.

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  12. One question, if you serve this as an appetizer would you pair it with tortilla chips or something else?

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    1. You could go a couple of different ways in serving this. Chips or some sort of cracker that you can use to scoop it up would be the easiest. If you're setting out plates and forks, you could also spoon some on a plate and eat it that way. We actually serve quite a few appetizers like that - people take little dabs of this and that, in addition to finger food.

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  13. Love your rec's for other ways to make the relish. I'm pretty sure I've never made mine the same way twice. LOL

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    1. Hi Pamela, I change dishes up all the time! It gets boring otherwise. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. such a delectable corn relish and recipes like these are most useful for us...quick to make and lip smacking delicious flavor in every bit...loved the color,ingredients and gorgeous food clicks,thanks so much for sharing :-)

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    1. Hi Kumar, it really is delectable! Delish and pretty to boot - perfect dish! Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Unless we're in prime sweet corn season, I always use frozen corn in my recipes. Your corn relish looks spectacular!

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    1. Hi Liz, frozen corn is quite high quality - actually better than some in-season corn I've had. Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Yummy!! This would be an impressive Thanksgiving dish!

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    1. Hi Ashley, it really is a nice dish - perfect for festive autumn meals! Thanks for the comment.

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  17. What a delightful side dish for Thanksgiving! I love corn, this recipe is so quick using the microwave it would be a handy one to have on hand for any meal!

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    1. Hi Barbara, I love how the microwave cooks corn. It keeps its great color, and it's done in a jiffy! Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Great recipe for this corn relish. Sounds like it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. Your pictures are lovely!!

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    1. Hi Dawn, this relish is really tasty - very crisp and vibrant flavor. Thanks for the kind words, and comment.

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  19. This corn relish looks so colorful and delicious! I'll have to remember this for next year's sweet corn season.

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    1. Hi Amy, it's really a nice relish. I think you'll enjoy it. Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Cquek, you'll love it! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Una receta fabulosa de temporada ,lindo color y sabrosa una exquisitez,abrazos.

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    1. Hi Rosita, the color really does suit the season, doesn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I love corn relish but have never made it, yet! Wonderful post, thank you for doing this!

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    1. Hi Dan, this is ridiculously easy to make! And has such great flavor. Enjoy. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I love that you don't have to use fresh corn for this. I LOVE corn and this looks worth loving. Walking to the grocery? That will work. We walk to the Pancake House! I think it defeats the purpose! Good recipe, John!

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    1. Hi Abbe, this is a great recipe - I think you'll like it. We do drive to the grocery store once a week to pick up heavy things, but normally we'll walk there several times a week. We do a ton of walking - we actually walk more miles a year than we drive! Thanks for the comment.

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  24. This is gorgeous, John! My brother once brought me corn relish from one of his travels, I never thought about making it. This is colourful and a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving table.

    Nazneen

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    1. Hi Nazneen, this is a great dish - loads of flavor, and so pretty! Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I love rediscovering the recipes that I used to make and have forgotten about. Sounds like this one is a winner. Who could argue with a dish that powers you to walk uphill, both ways?

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    1. Hi Beth, yeah, that walking uphill both ways is a real trick. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. I have never seen a relish like this but I know I would love it. Vinegar based salad side dishes are some of my favorite foods.

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    1. Hi Laura, this is such a nice, easy dish with loads of flavor. But it's pretty! Perfect. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. I can imagine using this together with roast chicken in a pita bread. YUMMY!

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    1. Hi Raymund, that sounds like a really nice combo of flavors! Great idea. Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I'm liking this a lot. Pimento, mustard seed ... all the flavor is in there for a perfect garnishment.

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    1. Hi Judy, isn't this a nice combo of flavors? Really, really good. Thanks for the comment.

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  29. I am extremely thankful this year for all the great make-ahead dishes from my favorite bloggers, since I don't even get an early day on Thanksgiving Eve. I try to have as many colors as possible on Thanksgiving, and now I have my yellow!

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    1. Hi Jeri, sorry to hear you'll be having a hectic Thanksgiving. But you can make this one now, and save it until then - that's what we're doing! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. Lovely to look at and I'm a big fan of sweet and heat...so jalapeno it would stay for me!

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    1. Hi Barb, sweet and heat definitely is something I like to eat too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Oh I love a spicy relish, and I love the idea of using corn, normally I go for a more standard tomato chilli relish, but this would make a love change. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Lauren, the corn really is nice - great old-fashioned flavor. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. This corn relish looks fantabulous! Would be so good with some savory pumpkin scones round Christmas!

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    1. Hi Shashi, this really is festive looking enough for Christmas! Pairing it with some pumpkin scones is a wonderful idea. Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Ha ha! I tell my kids that there was once a time when you had to plan a day ahead for baked potatoes. This was about the same time you had to get up to change the channel on the TV. Oh, it wasn't all that bad. We could still have delicious little dishes like this. I can't wait to try it. Thanks for this great little recipe.

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    1. Hi Karen, not only did you have to get up to change the channel on the TV, but you only had a choice of a handful of channels! Thanks for the comment.

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  34. We had some delicious jerked chicken tacos that were served with a zesty corn relish like this. Since I am now inspired to make the tacos, I am glad to have this recipe to accompany it.

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    1. Hi Debra, this would go so nicely with chicken tacos (jerked or otherwise!). Sounds like a delightful combo. Thanks for the comment.

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  35. I remember Bon Appetit. My mother used to buy the magazines. Wasn't there also a cooking show? What a lovely looking corn relish - it must have so much flavour. As I was a big fan of Bon Appetit, I'd love to make this xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, I don't remember the cooking show, but there well might have been one. This relish really is worth trying - I think you'll enjoy. Thanks for the comment.

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  36. Yum! I love that this is made with frozen corn! I always miss that yellow vegetable once summer ends. What a delicious side dish. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hi Monet, it's odd, but even though frozen corn has great flavor, I don't use it that much when summer is gone. I need to more often - it's so good! Thanks for the comment.

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  37. I love corn, but never thought in making relish…looks so tasty and a great way to have it handy…I would definitely add jalapeño.
    Have a great week John, and yes, I am back :D

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    1. Hi Juliana, glad you're back! I'll check out your new place. Thanks for the comment.

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  38. What a great corn relish! I can see this on the relish tray during the holiday. My whole family loves spicy so the sweet and spicy twist is perfect! Great relish! Thanks John!

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    1. Hi MJ, this really is a super dish - tons of flavor. And pretty! Thanks for the comment.

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  39. Deliciously tangy and so colorful! Perfect with a steak or raclette.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, this is such a great dish! And it goes with so many things - really versatile. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  40. It's corn season here so this will be on our table soon!

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    1. Hi Maureen, lucky you! Enjoy! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  41. I just salivating any some sweat just driven off on my upper lips skin just by reading this post..
    i can imagine how sweet, spicy and refreshing your corn relish...
    superb!

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    1. Hi Dedy, it's really a great dish! Worth working up a sweat over. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  42. Oh my, love everything about this relish. The vibrant colors of the relish are gorgeous and to die for :)

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    1. Hi Lail, aren't the colors nice? Such a great looking dish! Delish, too, which makes it even better. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  43. Delicious, John - and I love the convo with your wife!

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    1. Hi Donalyn, those conversations are fun for us to do, so glad you enjoy them! And thanks for the comment.

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  44. Corn relish looks so colorful and perfect for this weather.. I really need a bowl of it.. Delicious.. definitely making them today

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    1. Hi Sowmya, you do need a bowl of this! Really delish stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  45. What a cool dish to have for Thanksgiving! Love it! Spicy and yet sweet and so colorful! What a great recipe you have unearthed, John!

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    1. Hi Julia, this one came from our recipe vault! It really is good, and I was so happy to taste it again! Thanks for the comment.

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  46. Unlike Brussel Sprouts we do eat corn a lot. We all love it, in salsas, just plain or the side, in patties, or anyway we can think of. This sounds like a nice side dish or to add with other things to use as a dip or too scoop up with tortillas. Very nice and so simple!

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    1. Hi Vicki, this is such a nice dish! And most people like corn, so it's a crowd-pleaser. Thanks for the comment.

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  47. Oh so summery!! Love this relish and the idea of slathering it over warm tacos. Yum!

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    1. Hi Kiran, this would be wonderful on warm tacos, wouldn't it? Love the idea! Thanks for the comment.

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  48. I appreciate having a new idea for frozen corn, John! This sounds refreshing and a nice balance to the heavier dishes of the season. Your photos are so vibrant, too!

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    1. Hi Hannah, this is really a super recipe - really tasty, and quite easy. My favorite kind! Thanks for the kind words, and comment.

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  49. I love the vibrant colours of the relish. And the textures and flavours. Right up my street John.

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    1. Hi Kitchen Butterfly, I love color in food! Flavor comes first of course, but color second. And if I can include texture too, bonus! Plus texture is so much fun to photograph. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  50. Very nice quick side dish. It can be spicy or less spicy for my kids too. They love corn so much, and always nice to see a new corn recipe that I can save.

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    1. Hi Nami, most kids like corn, I've found. I sure did when I was a kid. Still do. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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