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