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by Jane Ward: Sweet and juicy, corn fresh from the field is a wonderful summer treat. Once corn has been picked, though, its natural sugars begin converting to starch. Within twenty-four hours, the kernels that should pop crisply in your mouth become a little tougher, a little chewier.
Sometimes I find myself with too much corn to eat all at once, and a few ears end up lingering in the fridge for a couple of days after I bring corn home from the farm. Pan roasting corn kernels is a great way to use up those few ears that have gone a day or two past their corn-on-the-cob eating prime. The starch that has developed actually helps the corn develop a beautiful golden brown caramelization that completely transforms sweet corn’s flavor into something more toasty, nutty, and complex. Once roasted, the corn kernels can be combined with any number of delicious fresh ingredients to create a slightly warm or room temperature side dish relish.
Corn oil for the pan (vegetable oil will substitute well)
Kernels from 3-4 ears of uncooked corn
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, diced (wear gloves when chopping any chili)
1 lime, cut in half
Salt to taste
Suggested additions: 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes, or to taste; 1 avocado, cubed; ½ cup finely chopped scallions
1. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add to the hot pan enough corn oil to cover the bottom of the skillet to a depth of 1/8-inch. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the corn kernels to the pan. Take care; the juice from the corn will pop and spatter. Stir the corn to coat it all in the oil. Adjust the heat between medium and medium high to maintain a steady rate of cooking. The goal is to let the corn sugars develop slowly and evenly. Stir only occasionally, moving the corn from the top of the pan to the bottom to allow all the kernels to brown. Browning could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes.
2. When you have reached the desired golden brown, stir in as much of the chopped jalapeno as desired and let the pepper soften with the heat for a minute or two.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately squeeze the juice of one half of the lime over the corn. Stir and taste for seasoning, and add only as much salt as needed.
The corn relish may be served as is. Or you may add any or all of the suggested vegetables. Use your imagination to come up with some combinations of your own. Crumbled bacon or crisp diced pancetta is also wonderful with corn.
Once you have added everything you wish to add, taste the corn relish and add more limejuice and salt as necessary to correct the seasoning.
Recipe courtesy of Jane Ward, author and Blogger - Food & Fiction, 2012.
Jane Ward is the author of HUNGER (Forge, 2001) and THE MOSAIC ARTIST (2011). Jane graduated from Simmons College with a degree in English Literature, the desire to write novels, and an aptitude fo