Calling all corn heads: Let's eat!

Call me a corn brain if you must. My husband does.

When it's in season, and if I had my druthers, local corn would be on the menu every gol' darn night until there was no more to be had. That's how goofy I am about corn.

And while many cultures and their cuisines focus on the various byproducts of corn — cornbread, polenta, hominy and tortillas, to name a few — what I'm speaking of today is plain-old, finger-lickin', teeth-pickin', five-napkin corn on the cob.

Nobody needs help figuring out what to do with those first few weeks' worth of the local corn harvest. But right about now, you may be looking for alternatives, which is where the recipes for corn butter come in (see related stories). They're just simple, little, flavored butters that offer a bit of variation on the theme of Corn on the Cob.

Prepare several different flavored butters right away. Then store them in the refrigerator to have on hand for the rest of the corn season. Last year, I even made up an extra-big batch of my favorite (Kokanee Cafe's Chipotle Butter) and gave it away to some fellow corn heads.

On-the-cob tips:

Cooking local, sweet corn only takes a few minutes. Some folks believe that means dropping the prepared ears into rapidly boiling water and whisking them from the water three to four minutes later. That's definitely the high road. But I'm not quite that fanatical and, so, will not send the corn police in your direction if you want to start the ears in cold water then start the cooking time when it's reached a boil. And depending on the size and tenderness of the kernels, my time ranges from four to seven minutes of cooking at a boil.

For foil-roasted corn on the cob, remove the husks and silks from the corn, rinse the ears (leaving a bit of water clinging to the kernels) and place in squares of heavy-duty foil, brush with melted butter (or dollops of any of the flavored butters prepared from the accompanying recipes). Wrap well. Roast on a hot grill, turning several times, or in a 375-degree oven (no need to turn) for about 15 minutes.

For grilled corn on the cob, peel back the husks from the corn and remove the silks. Bring the husks back over the cobs and secure each bundle at their ends by tying off with a strip of corn husk. Soak the corn in water for at least 10 minutes (this keeps the corn husks from burning too drastically during grilling and also steams the corn as it's cooking). Grill the corn, turning frequently, until the husks are dry and the kernels are tender and beginning to brown around parts of the edges. This takes about 15 minutes.

For steamed corn on the cob, remove the husks and silks and place the corn on a rack in a pot over 1 inch of water and steam for six to 10 minutes, depending on size and tenderness of the ears, with lid on.

Off-the-cob tips:

Kernels cut from six plump ears yield approximately 2 1/2 cups whole kernels.

Add corn kernels to pancake batters, muffins, cornbread, cornsticks, salads, stews and casseroles, a cheese quiche, stir-fry dishes, sautéd pieces of chorizo sausage (along with boiled, small, new potatoes, onions and pepper) and scrambled eggs; for creamier sautés, scrape some of the kernels rather than simply cutting them from the cob (then after sautéing, add cream and reduce to a thick and creamy texture.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, cookbook author and artist. Readers can contact her at by e-mail at or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at

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