This quick dish is equally tasty made with fresh or frozen corn
Fresh, local sweet corn—it’s one of the glories of mid-summer. But corn also freezes exceptionally well, and what you find in the frozen-food aisle usually has been processed within hours of picking. That means it may have more flavor than “fresh” corn that’s actually days old when it hits your grocer’s produce department.
Which comes in handy when making a dish like this sautéed corn. It’s wonderful with fresh corn, but you won’t even notice the difference if you substitute frozen.
With the main ingredient so readily available year round, this tasty dish might become a menu staple: Have it during summer to celebrate fresh corn. And have it again in winter, to remind you that sunny days will soon be here again.
Recipe: Sautéed Corn with Chilies and Bacon
This dish is just a quick sauté of corn with fresh chilies. It’s similar to a classic Cajun and Creole dish called Maque Choux (aka maquechoux). But the Louisiana dish typically contains tomato and (usually) cream. Our dish omits both of those.
We use bacon in this dish because it combines so well with corn. But it’s easy to make a vegan version (more about that in the Notes).
BTW, exact measurements aren’t crucial for this recipe. We often just eyeball the ingredients rather than measure them. And although we suggest specific chile peppers for this dish, feel free to substitute whatever you prefer (see Notes).
Prep time for this dish is about 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 15 minutes or so.
This recipe yields about 6 sidedish-sized servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1 small onion (we like purple onion in this dish, but any variety, including scallions, will work)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 Poblano pepper
- 1 to 3 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- salt to taste (maybe ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt, or about half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (several grinds for us)
- 3 to 4 cups sweet corn (frozen or kernels cut from fresh corn; see Notes)
- garnish of jalapeño pepper and/or onion slices (optional)
- Slice the bacon into pieces of 1-inch or a bit smaller. Place the bacon pieces in a large frying pan on medium heat, then cook them until nicely browned (8 minutes or so).
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into dice of ½ inch or less. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince finely. Set aside.
- Wash the red bell pepper and the Poblano pepper, then remove the stems and core. Chop the peppers into dice of ½ inch or so. Set aside.
- 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 may want to reserve a round or two of the jalapeño as a garnish). Set the diced peppers aside, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- By now the bacon should be nicely browned. Remove the bacon pieces from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and allow them to drain on paper towels. Spoon most of the bacon drippings out of the pan, leaving a tablespoon or so. Add the diced onion, garlic, and peppers to the frying pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent—5 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, measure out the corn (if you’re using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the ears; see Notes). When the onion is ready, add the corn to the pan. Cook until just done—usually 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add the drained bacon pieces back to the pan, stir to incorporate, and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve. We like to garnish with slices of jalapeño and/or onion.
- If using fresh corn, we usually estimate that one ear yields about ¾ cup of kernels.
- We find the easiest way to cut kernels from a cob is to stand a shucked ear of corn upright on a cutting board (the stem is up—you hold onto that with one hand). Use a sharp knife and slice downwards underneath the rows of kernels.
- Want to make a vegan version of this dish? Just omit the bacon, substituting a tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing the veggies in Step 6.
- In this dish, we like to use red bell peppers for color, plus Poblanos and jalapeños for heat. But feel free to substitute what you like. Green bell pepper could take the place of red. And Hatch or California green chilies would be wonderful for spice.
- If you’d like an even spicier dish, add some hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco) at the end of cooking.
- Tomatoes work well in this recipe. Just add a cup or two of diced tomatoes in Step 6 when you add the other veggies.
- For additional flavor, you can also add some chopped parsley or cilantro when you add the corn (Step 7).
- How much salt and black pepper to use? Whatever tastes good to you. We provide suggested measurements—but in truth we rarely season any dish the same way twice in a row. New cooks sometimes get intimidated without specific measurements, but you really need to trust your own sense of taste. When in doubt, under season. You can always add more at table.
“Love this dish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “So much flavor.”
“Aw, shucks,” I said. “It’s nothing.”
Mrs K R shot me a look. “I hope this isn’t going to be another corny ending to a post.”
“That would be pretty ear-responsible,” I said.
“Not to mention cornfusing,” she said.
“We really can’t resist bad puns,” I said. “Guess we’re just a couple of corn flakes.”
“Well,” said Mrs K R. “I like to think we’re amaizing.”
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