School bells are ringing and school buses are running -- kids and parents alike are in the unenviable position of frantically adjusting to the Fall regimen. This morning, while laying in bed watching CNN at 7:30AM with my three poodles, I heard the school bus pull up to the stop across the street. I couldn't help but "smile a sigh" of relief. So, what does this have to do with creamed corn? I started thinking about my favorite Fall after-school meals as a child!
Allow me to briefly reminisce about childhood & creamed corn:
When I was growing up, our family of four had a highly-organized after-school agenda: playtime, dinner, homework, TV, bed. It changed as we got older, but, in our house there was always a plan and it required everyone to help make it work. To this day I am an advocate of raising kids to know what to expect, when to expect it, and, show respect for it. End of speech -- back to creamed corn. I grew up eating creamed corn out of a can and I loved it -- I still do -- and there's nothing wrong with that either. It's good, and, for the most part, manufacturers have left the ingredients unadulterated too: sweet corn, water, salt, sugar and food starch (thickener).
My dad cooked dinner once, sometimes twice a week. He made and we ate spaghetti and meatballs every Tuesday. That was that and what's not to love about that. The other meal he made was "skinny" pan-fried pork chops, and, he made those twice a month, always on a Thursday (mom made meatloaf on the other two Thursdays). He always served them with baked beans and creamed corn or applesauce and home-fried potatoes. That was that!
Creamed corn: In the Midwestern States, sweet corn isn't just a crop, it is a lifestyle. They'll be the first to tell you they grow the best, produce the most, and have invented more creative ways to prepare it than anywhere. In the Midwest, when you shave corn kernels from a cob of corn, smash them up a bit to release their milky juices, and, cook them in a shallow pan with fresh midwestern dairy-fresh butter and cream: your making creamed corn!
Fried corn: In the Southern States they refer to creamed corn as "fried corn". It's a misconception that Southerners fry or deep-fry everything, but, the word "fried" didn't get into the phrase "southern-fried" for nothing, and, because creamed corn is made in a cast-iron skillet in the South, they call it "fried corn". They also make theirs using bacon drippings in place of butter, which is understandable, since, as we all know, pork fat rules the culinary roost down there!
Country-style corn: We grow a lot of sweet corn and raise a lot of dairy cows here in the rural Northeastern states too. Here in Central Pennsylvania, more specifically Amish country, you'll find fields of sweet corn growing next to dairy farms throughout the picturesque landscape . Like many foods associated with the Amish, Mennonite and Quaker communities, "country-style" is the catch-phrase everyone uses to describe their back-to-basics methods of processing and preparing it!
Whatever you call it, it is simply downhome delicious!
2 tablespoons sugar, for sweetening blanching water
5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 5 tablespoon-sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, for seasoning corn
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy
~Step 1. In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the sugar to the water. One-at-a-time, lower the corn into the water. When the water returns to a boil, blanch the corn for 1 minute. While the corn is blanching, use a pair of tongs to dunk the tops down into the water. Do not overcook. Using the tongs, remove the corn to a large plate and set aside until corn can be easily handled with your hands, about 20-30 minutes.
~ Step 2. When the corn has cooled to the point where you can comfortably hold it with your hands, it's time to shave the kernels from the cobs. This is quite easy. For details and tips, click on the Related Article link below to read my post ~ How to: Shave Corn Off the Cob with No Mess!!! ~. Note: Corn shaving is not a precise sport. Six cobs will yield about 3 cups. Eight cobs will yield a bit more than needed, but, it insures enough.
~Step 4. In a 3 1/2-quart chefs pan or 10" skillet, melt the remaining butter (3 tablespoons) over low heat. Stir in the sugar, salt, white pepper and flour. A thick paste will form. Increase heat to medium and continue to stir constantly until the roux gets foamy, but not browned. Add the whole corn kernels (not the puree), enjoy the sizzle, and thoroughly stir them into the mixture.
~ Step 5. Add and thoroughly stir in the corn puree. Increase heat to medium-high, and, stirring constantly, cook until mixture is steaming and beginning to simmer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve immediately or cover and reheat just prior to serving time.
Special Equipment List: 8-quart stockpot; tongs; cutting board; chef's knife; bundt pan (optional); food processor; 1-cup measuring container; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides, or 10" skillet; large spoon
Cook's Note: For another Midwestern-style sweet corn recipe, click into Catetories 4, 10 or 17 to get ~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~. It is super-easy to make, and, because you can substitute canned corn for freshly shaved corn kernels, you and your family can enjoy it all year round -- my family sure does!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)