Corn isn’t something we eat a huge amount of although every so often, one does get a craving for the almost honey-like sweetness of the little yellow kernels.
Also, eating corn is actually pretty fun,especially at a barbecue. straight off the grill, charred and smothered in butter, handed to you with a little tissue, it take two hands to eat and you always end up sucking every last kernel off the cob as butter drips down your greedy chin. Not the most classy of ways to eat but the best things rarely are.
Sweetcorn is of course very very sweet, sweeter, in fact, than most ingredients we consider as savoury. With this in mind it is important to balance out this sweetness with sharp and spicy flavours from ingredients like chillies, limes and coriander.
Cheese, butter and bacon also go very well with corn. The first recipe here is a pretty standard grilled corn, which you char on either a barbecue, or as we usually do, a heavy griddle pan on the stove top.
This initial recipe is good because it actually forms a first step to the other two recipes and we recommend making a large batch of charred corn on the cob so you can eat a couple of them straight off the grill and then with the rest make into a bright, super tasty salad or an earthy and moreish corn chowder.
This is inspired by some recent experiences eating in some great Mexican restaurants in Dublin (such as the always tasty Masa) where simple but incredible ‘elotes’ are usually served with a little Mexican cheese, some chillies and lots of lime juice. We have combined the latter two into a moreish butter to be melted on top which is how we usually eat most things in Ireland, covered in lots and lots of delicious butter.
4 ears of corn, husked
25g of parmesan
1 lime, cut into eight wedges
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Coriander leaves to garnish
For the butter:
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp of coriander leaves chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 inch of a small red chilli finely diced
To make the butter, put all the ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork or wooden spoon. When everything is well combined roll the butter in brown parchment paper and cool in the fridge. When ready to use, cut however much you need into half-inch rounds.
Heat a grill pan/griddle or barbecue to medium high. Prepare the husked ears of corn by rubbing them in a little olive oil and seasoning them lightly with sea salt and black pepper.
Grill the corn, turning regularly in order to evenly cook them on all sides, don’t be afraid to char the corn in places.
When the corn is tender, cooked through and lightly charred all over, places some nice thick slices of the lime and chilli butter on top, letting them melt over the corn. grate the parmesan over everything and garnish with some coriander leaves. Serve with a wedge of lime.
Orzo salads always look so elegant, especially compared to other pasta salads which can look a little dated or lacklustre. The flavours here should all be about contrasting the sweetness of the corn. Lots of lime juice to give acidity, chilli powder for heat and salty, creamy goats cheese to give a textural contrast. This salad is super quick to assemble and keeps really well as a lunchbox meal.
2 ears of corn, grilled until moderately charred
1 medium courgette, sliced into medium slices at an angle
200g of orzo
60g of mayonnaise
3tbsp of fresh limejuice half red onion, very finely chopped
Half tsp of medium chilli powder
A good handful of chopped coriander
100g fresh, crumbly goats cheese like St Tola or Ardsallagh Salt and pepper
Cook the orzo in salted boiling water as per packet instructions until a little more cooked than ‘al dente’. Drain, and place in a bowl to cool. Drizzle with a little olive oil and mix into the grain of orzo so prevent it all sticking together.
Grill the courgette slices on a medium hot grill pan with a little olive oil, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. Don’t over-grill them to the point that they become too soft or fall apart, you want them still with a little crush, charred lightly by the grill pan. Set the grilled courgette to the side to cool.
Grill the corn on the same grill pan. Brush them with a little olive oil and turn them often to get them nice and evenly cooked. You are looking for them to be lightly to moderately charred. When cooked, set aside to cool a bit until you can handle them. When they are cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off by holding the cobs upright and cutting downwards, all around the cob until all the kernels are off.
To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, red onion, chilli powder and lime juice in a small bowl, whisking well and vigorously to combine.
Combine the orzo, courgette and corn in a large bowl along with the mayonnaise dressing, making sure all the ingredients are coated. Season with salt and pepper. You may need to add a little more lime juice. Arrange the the salad on a large platter with the goats cheese crumbled over and coriander leaves, chopped and sprinkled on top.
Compared with most things we make, this might be considered a bit of a long haul as it involves firstly making a broth and then building up the various ingredients before combining everything into a chowder. We also crucially love to use corn which we have charred first, adding yet another task to complete before you get to sit down and eat.
Sometimes, cooking does take time and it is best to make this when you are in that rare certain type of mood to give some of your precious day over to making something truly delicious and comforting. This chowder is sweet, yes, but it is made more complex and special with the addition of earthy mushrooms and salty pancetta.
4 ears of corn, husked and charred on a grill
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly, stems reserved
1 red chilli, sliced very thinly
1 red rooster potato, peeled and finely diced
1 medium leek, green parts discarded, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g of pancetta, chopped into small chunks
1 handful of chopped parsley
2 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
60ml of white wine
250ml of double cream
50g of butter
50g of parmesan
Slice the kernels off the cob, place in a bowl and set to one side, reserve the cobs.
Bring 1 litre of water to boil in a large saucepan. Add the kernless cobs, thyme, plenty of sea salt and the reserved mushroom stems. Bring to the boil again and then turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the broth is fragrant and the liquid has reduced a good bit. This should take 30-40 minutes. Discard the solids, retaining the rich, flavourful broth which you can set aside for now.
Clean out your large saucepan and return it to a medium high heat. Add the butter (with a little olive oil to prevent burning) and add the charred corn kernels, seasoning with a little salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the wine.
Cook for a further two minutes and then add the pancetta, cooking it for a few minutes until the fat starts rendering down before adding the potatoes, leek, garlic, chillies, sliced mushrooms. Cook the vegetables for around 10 minutes so that they soften but do not colour, make sure to keeping stirring everything in the pot to prevent sticking.
Add the reserved broth, bring to the boil and then simmer for roughly 10 minutes until the potato is tender throughout. Add cream and cook, stirring until the chowder thickens, 5-8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add chopped parsley, grated parmesan and check the seasoning. Divide into bowls and garnish with some more parsley and parmesan.