Creamed Corn

September 11, 2010

Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn.
~Garrison Keillor

A summer synonymous symphony: corn, chile peppers, tomatoes. With cream? Muah!

A cereal grass domesticated by early indigenous mesoamerican tribes, corn (Zea mays) is better known as maize to other cultures for obvious linguistic reasons. Some of the earliest traces of meal made from corn date back about 7,000 years. Corn was initially brought back to the Old World by Spanish and Portuguese explorers who later introduced it throughout the Mediterranean basin and thence much of the remainder of the world. Now, maize is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.

Add corn to those lofty innovations that native farmers introduced to Europeans —joining vanilla, chocolate, potatoes, peanuts, manioc, beans, tomatoes, sunflowers, and yams. What indigineous tribes received in return from the white man? Well…


3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
3 heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced

2 T unsalted butter
1/2 medium shallot, peeled and minced
1 serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced

4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked, kernels stripped
1 C heavy cream
Fresh rosemary sprig
3 T chèvre, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 C pine nuts, freshly toasted
Fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons

In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over moderate heat. When shimmering but butter not browning, add thick tomato slices. Do not crowd, so cook the tomatoes in batches. Sear the tomatoes until slightly cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and repeat. Cook remaining tomatoes in the same fashion. The tomato slices should still be firm yet lightly browned. Set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy medium sauce pan over medium high heat. When it foams, add shallots and chiles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add kernels, cream and rosemary sprig to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes; then uncover and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in chèvre and ground pepper and continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about another 5 minutes. Remove and discard rosemary sprig.

Arrange tomato slices on a platter or individual small plates, and top with creamed corn, chèvre and chile mixture. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.

Pourboire: For a tingly and pungent change of pace, substitute a fine French bleu or Italian gorgonzola cheese for the chèvre; or stir in cooked bacon lardons in lieu of garnishing with pine nuts.