There were mountains of white corn at Berkeley Bowl West the other day, so I picked up six ears. I love that they provide receptacles near the corn for shucking then and there. This helps me keep my green recycling pail from being a third full after one meal.
We’re a little tired of plain old corn on the cob (though we’ll be missing it like mad in about three months), so I thought I’d shear the ears, roast the kernels, and make some kind of side dish.
There is nothing like fresh corn right off the cob. I have friends who have never taken corn off an ear – and these are food people. Come on! It’s easy and really worth it.
They have gizmos now that de-corn an ear in one fell swoop, but a sharp knife works fine. I like to use my boning knife or smaller chef’s knife, and I cut about 1/2 inch off the thinner end of the cob to create a flat base. I stand the corn on this base and then cut from the top down, hugging the ear with the side of the knife fairly tightly so I get full kernels.
Make sure you use a sharp knife. If you feel unsure of yourself, then do this: Buy a small scrap of untreated plywood – something like 5″ X 5″ – sand and wash it well. Hammer a brand new, washed and dried, nail through the center of the board. You want a thick nail that will give you about 3″ to work with once it’s all the way through the wood. You can then jam the thicker end of each cob down onto the nail as a means of stability. Gluing some flat silicone “feet” onto the bottom is also a good idea. Ask for these at your hardware store. For this recipe, just stand the thing in a sheet pan and allow the corn to fall into the pan as you cut.
Another option is using a bundt pan. Stick the smaller end of the cob (don’t trim it) into the hole in the middle. When you shear the ear, the kernels will fall into the pan. I don’t use this method because I wind up cutting the bundt pan.
Note that my recipe calls for 6 ears of corn, which will crowd your sheet pan – which should technically be a half sheet pan, or half the size of a professional sheet pan. A full sheet pan will not fit into most home ovens, but a half sheet pan is perfect, and you should have several of these on hand as they are serious workhorses.
Anyhoo, I crowd the sheet pan because I don’t want to dry out the corn. Some of it will brown, but some of it will just cook from the heat of the corn crowding it. You want this. I don’t salt the corn until it’s out of the oven to prevent toughness.
Basic Roasted Corn Kernels
Makes plenty – a half sheet pan will be full
6 ears’ worth of corn, white or yellow
1/3 cup olive oil
Version A – plain buttered
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (take it out of fridge when you start corn)
Version B – with hazelnut vinaigrette
3 tablespoons roasted hazelnut or walnut oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from sweet oranges – not too tart)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1). Place corn on sheet pan.
2). Add oil, mix with hands, and spread out evenly in pan.
3). Roast in 400 deg. F. convection oven until you see some browning action.
4). Turn/mix corn with spatula and spread out evenly.
5). Allow to roast for another 10 minutes or so.
6). Remove from pan and place in large, heavy bowl.
7). Go to version A or B.
Version A: Season corn with sea salt and pepper. Bury butter in the corn. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit until butter melts – a few minutes. Remove plastic, mix in butter, and serve ASAP.
Version B: Season corn with a little sea salt and set aside. Make a vinaigrette out of remaining ingredients (plus a couple cranks of sea salt) by whisking. Mix vinaigrette into corn. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit out on counter for 30 mins before serving. Note that the corn will be very lightly dressed, so if you want more of the dressing just double the vinaigrette recipe.