Add fresh basil for an extra taste of summer sunshine
Sweet corn is in season around here – and we’re ready for one of summer’s glory foods.
You can eat it right off the cob, of course. Slathered with butter, it’s the ultimate summer comfort food. But it can be a bit messy.
So let’s take those ingredients and combine them into a plated dish. But brown the butter first, for extra flavor. Then add fresh basil for an extra hit of warm-weather goodness.
The result? A dish worthy of a summer dinner party. When we can have those again.
Brown butter (aka beurre noisette) is butter that has been cooked long enough for the milk solids to turn light brown. It has a richer, nuttier flavor than regular melted butter.
This recipe calls for using about one ear of sweet corn per person. To make the dish, you first slice the kernels off the cob. Then add butter to a skillet and allow it to brown. Sauté the sweet corn kernels in the butter. Season with salt and pepper, add minced basil, and you’re done.
You can substitute frozen sweet corn for fresh (we give instructions for both). Frozen sweet corn is an excellent product, but we have to admit that it can’t compare to the milky sweetness of in-season corn cut fresh from the cob.
We first saw a recipe for this dish in the late, lamented Gourmet magazine years ago.
This dish takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
It can be served either as a first course or as a side dish. You can easily scale this recipe up or down to suit the number of diners you’re serving.
- 1 ear of fresh sweet corn per person (may substitute ¾ cup frozen sweet corn; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon fresh butter per ear, plus an extra tablespoon for the skillet (or more, to taste)
- salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt per ear for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (maybe 2 to 3 grinds per ear)
- fresh basil to taste (we use about 1½ tablespoons per ear)
- If using fresh sweet corn: Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cob (see Notes for the easiest way to do this). If using frozen sweet corn, measure out the amount you’ll be using.
- Add the butter to a heated skillet. Once it’s melted, cook the butter over medium-low heat until it begins to brown – about 10 minutes. Stir it from time to time as it cooks. BTW, most of the browning takes place in just a couple of minutes, so watch that the butter doesn’t burn.
- When the butter is browned, turn the heat up to medium and add the sweet corn kernels. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, then sauté until the sweet corn is cooked (2 to 4 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like it).
- Meanwhile, wash the fresh basil and shake it dry. Remove the stems, then mince the basil leaves (the easiest way is to roll bundles of leaves into cigar shapes, then chop them finely with a knife). You may want to reserve a few whole basil leaves for garnish.
- When the sweet corn is cooked, taste it. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then quickly stir in the chopped basil.
- Plate the dish, adding garnish if you wish. Serve and enjoy.
- Here’s the easiest way to cut kernels of sweet corn from a cob: Stand a shucked ear of sweet corn upright on a cutting board (the stem should be pointing up – you need to hold onto that with one hand). Use a sharp knife and slice downwards underneath the rows of kernels.
- We generally use a very small cutting board, but place put it inside a large, wide mixing bowl. That prevents any kernels from bouncing away from the cutting board and potentially landing on the floor.
- We suggest using one ear of sweet corn per person – and we sometimes add an extra ear for good measure. (That equals about ¾ cup frozen sweet corn per person). But feel free to alter measurements to your taste.
- Same with the basil – use as much or as little as you prefer.
- We use fresh basil from our garden. Basil wilts quickly after you pick it. So if we pick ours more than a few minutes ahead of time, we generally place the stems in a cup of water (like a bouquet of flowers). Then we mince it right before using.
- Don’t have fresh basil on hand? Fresh thyme might make a good substitute.
- Want extra garnish? Try sprinkling on some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love sweet corn this time of year,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Beam me to Iowa, Scotty.”
“This recipe is a-maizing,” I said.
“That’s a real dad joke,” said Mrs K R. “Or, as I like to call it, pop corn.”
“Aw, shucks,” I said. “If it’s so bad, why are you smiling from ear to ear?”
“Well, there’s a kernel of truth to that observation,” said Mrs K R. “But keep it up and you’ll talk yourself into a corn-er.”
Better stop before I get creamed.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Sautéed Corn with Chilies and Bacon
Quick Corn Relish
Summer Green Bean Salad
Or check out the Index for more
I had never thought of mixing corn with basil before- must produce an a-maizing flavor! There are so many exciting things you can make with corn- even making desserts with corn as the main ingredient. Love your 'corny' jokes!
You have me at brown butter! This looks absolutely delightful, John.
Hi Fran, corn pudding is a great dessert! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, brown butter is good stuff, isn't it? Love it! Thanks for the comment.
I hope I can find some silver queen corn today. I was planning on having it on the cob, but this sounds so much better!
Hi Anne, this is more work than serving corn on the cob, but trust me, the flavor payoff is worth it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I couldn’t agree more with you that corn ON the cob is messy! I’d much rather enjoy corn OFF the cob with delightfully delicious brown butter! Thanks for this recipe!
Hi Shashi, this has ALL the flavor of corn on the cob (more, actually, because of the brown butter) but is much, much easier to eat. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I can't believe I've never thought to combine fresh corn with brown butter. Delicious!
You can't go wrong with brown butter and a few cobs of sweet corn from the local farmers that have a sale on the corner. Easy and delicious recipe.
Hi Pam, such a simple idea, isn't it? And SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bobbi, this is really worth having. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum. I brown butter a lot. Even if I steam some Brussels sprouts for myself, I have to brown some butter for them. I’ve never done it with corn, just melted butter. Can’t wait to do it!
Have it both ways — I always buy extra ears of corn and cut the kernels off of the uneaten (but cooked) ones. Thus we can have your dish the second day with just a bit of warming up in the butter. The leftover kernels make a lot of other great dishes too.
be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Yum! Thanks for sharing. I love corn during the summer months.
Hi Mimi, brown butter is awesome, isn't it? Of course regular melted butter is pretty darn good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, corn two times sounds like double the fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi LB, nothing like fresh in-season corn, is there? Thanks for the comment.
Fresh, sweet corn is one of my favourites this time of year. So pretty too. Never thought to cook the kernels in brown butter, great idea!
Hi Eva, isn't this pretty? We love brown butter, and this is a neat way to use it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh that sweet summer corn! I always think of my grandma when the corn starts to come up. She would always remind me that the corn gets knee high by the 4th of July and then we get to eat it at in late July and early August.
Hi Pat and Dahn, it's a corny time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the color of corn!
Love it so much. I need now.
Hi Natallia, it's pretty, isn't it? Love that yellow! Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, you do, you do! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Thank you, Yum!
Your image and recipe have me salivating as we don't get those glorious ears of sweet sunshine over and up our way. But shucks, I must have this dish so frozen it shall be. Perhaps served with a roasted Cornish hen...
Hi Karin, yum is exactly the word! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ron, frozen works pretty well. Just add more brown butter. :-) And a Cornish hen would be SO appropriate! Thanks for the comment.
Sweet corn will be on the menu tomorrow night and this simple recipe will be a delicious change of pace!!
Hi Liz, enjoy! We're having corn a couple of nights at least at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Serving sweet corn in brown butter sounds REALLY good! Now I need to go buy some sweet corn. Thanks John!
Hi MJ, you really do need to get some corn. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wrong season for us Down Under tho' Have had some 'funny' comments from up north re our 24 C 'winter' days :) ! Brown butter was probably one of the first 'cooking lessons' I had as a small child . . . tho' rarely used these days with my Australasian manners and mores, I DO like the taste it imparts. Naturally love the basil and cannot wait for it to begin growing here again . . .Oh, like Ron, I would use it as a side . . .
Hi Eha, our basil has been wonderful this year -- really been enjoying it. And although it doesn't seem like a natural pairing with corn, it's quite nice. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Basil and corn ... it doesn't get much more summery than that.
Hi Laura, total summer fun in one dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the very look of these corn John, what a lovely way to enjoy the summer bounty.Loved the vibrant clicks here and it can make a great easy salad for my girl's lunch box. Thanks John.
I always wondered about "knee high by the 4th of July" because the cornfields I've always seen throughout the Midwest have knee high corn some time in early June, and the corn has to be MUCH taller by July. I finally found out that the measurement was knee high to a person on horseback! And sometimes taller than that.
I've had a tough time finding good corn around here. Not enough rain here maybe. Had some last night and it was just okay. Brown butter would have been great! Why didn't I think of it?!?! Thanks, John.
Hi Hasin, this would make a delightful lunch! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, good to hear from you! We're close to corn country, so we get really good local corn. And we've had plenty of rain this year -- too much, actually! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, I never knew about that horseback thing! Really fun fact. :-) Thanks!
I love summer corn. This sounds like a great recipe!
Hi Jeff, fresh corn is so terrific, isn't it? Lovely with brown butter. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I can only imagine how good this fresh corn tastes with the richness of brown butter. This is a perfect recipe during corn season.
This is definitely going to be a side dish this week. Love mixing it with basil.
Hi Judee, isn't this a nice combo of flavors? SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Balvinder, our bail is going nuts this year, so we're always looking for a dish to use it in. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Browned butter on anything is SO good! So I can only imagine how divine it is on fresh summer corn. It takes the corn game to the next level.
Hi Carolyn, maybe to another two levels. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I just love corn. We probably eat it 3x a week in the summer. Might have to switch things up and try this. Can't wait!
Hi Abbe, your Colorado corn is probably the best I've ever tasted. It's wonderful! Bet it'll be awesome in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
i always giggle when i see the word shucked. you know what i mean?:) it just sounds so ... dirty. bet your dish is not dirty at all:-)
i used to eat a lot of corn on the cob in my younger days. don't know why i stopped. must start again ...
So many recipes you post I find myself saying "why didn't I think of that". Especially this one. I make brown butter for pasta all the time .... why not corn. Looks delicious John.
Hi Sherry, LOL! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sherry, you definitely must start again -- it's so good. Messy, but good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, we thought the same thing when we first saw this recipe in _Gourmet_. Kinda obvious, but escaped us, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Corn and basil is one of our go-to summer combinations. I don't know about you there, but the corn here in Tucson has been amazing this year. But I have never made it with brown butter - definitely have ot give this a try! Re: your comment on my post - must be a brown butter kind of week!
Hi David, definitely a brown butter week. :-) And yeah, our corn has been quite excellent this year. Nice! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a simple yet delicious snack
Hi Raymund, we're pretty simple. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Have a beautiful day
Hi R, thanks! You too. :-)
John, your sweet corn recipe is such a fabulous way to take advantage of all that fresh corn at the store right now. I also really loved your great tips for topping it with fresh basil and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. So perfect!
This corn looks delicious!
Hi Heidi, it's been a banner year for corn! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Josiah, it is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That delicious nutty flavor from the brown butter with the corn and basil must be out of this world. Definitely making this! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, this is wonderful stuff -- bet you'll like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
How come I have not thought about brown butter and corn since I love both? Thank you so much for the recipe John...I will definitely give this a try.
Hi Juliana, bet you'll start making this more than corn on the cob. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This recipe sounds delicious. I would have never thought of browning the butter with the sweet corn, but it is an excellent idea.
Hi Dawn, it really is good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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