Start With Fresh Corn on the Cob

Fresh corn on the cob is one of those foods that cooks better and more easily in the microwave than any other way. Since the natural husk is permeable to microwaves, it can be used as a cover for steaming the corn in its own natural juices. Microwaves cook corn so quickly that the flavor and nutrients are preserved.

When planning to microwave corn on the cob, try to start with the freshest corn available.

Although microwave experts agree on the general technique for microwaving corn on the cob, there are a few points of contention. Everyone recommends keeping the husk on, but some experts also recommend removing the silk. Some suggest soaking the ears in water a few minutes before microwaving. This is especially appropriate if the corn appears to be somewhat dried out. For ease of handling, some cooks suggest putting several ears of corn together in a microwave dish so they can be rotated easily in the oven.

Here's how I microwave corn on the cob: If all of the outer husks are intact when you purchase the corn, remove some of them so that only one or two layers of husk remain around the corn. Remove the silk by carefully pulling back the husk on each ear and pulling out as much silk as possible. Replace the husk over the kernels. Evenly space ears in the microwave oven and microwave about three minutes per ear, rotating or rearranging ears after about half the total time. A single ear may take slightly longer than three minutes--possibly four or five minutes. Corn is done when kernels are just tender. Serve immediately.

I like fresh corn on the cob just as it comes from the microwave, without any seasonings. But you can accompany it with imaginative herbs and spices, if desired. In addition to salt and pepper, try serving it with butter and dill weed or chili powder. Or season it to taste with nutmeg, basil or celery seeds.

If, for some reason, the fresh corn has already been husked, you can microwave it individually by replacing each husk with wax paper that has been twisted at each end. I do not recommend using plastic wrap for individual ears of corn on the cob because the plastic surrounds the cob too closely and holds in too much steam. And it's difficult to handle the hot cooked cobs to remove the plastic wrap after microwaving. Alternately, you can put many ears of husked corn on the cob in a dish together and cover the dish with plastic wrap or wax paper before microwaving.

Corn pudding is also wonderful when made in the microwave, but you must use a microwave preparation technique.

Good cooks say that the most important step for success with corn pudding is how the kernels are cut off of the cob. Hold the cob in a vertical position, then, using a very sharp knife, cut the cob just slightly beyond the tip of each kernel. Cutting deeply into the cob yields too much of the "skin" of each kernel, and this results in a rough, rather than creamy, texture to the pudding. After cutting just the tips of the kernels, use the dull side of the knife to scrape each cob thoroughly. This yields additional corn and milky liquid for flavor.

KENTUCKY CORN PUDDING

2 cups corn kernels (3 large ears)

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg

Paprika

Place corn and water in 1-quart microwave-safe casserole and cover. Microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH 4 to 6 minutes until partially done. Let stand, covered.

Whisk cornstarch with small amount of milk until dissolved in 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Add remaining milk, sugar, salt and pepper to casserole, whisking well. Add butter and microwave on HIGH 3 to 4 minutes, whisking every minute, until thickened.

Beat egg well in small cup or bowl. Whisk small amount hot sauce into egg, then return mixture to casserole, whisking well. Blend in corn, then sprinkle top of casserole with paprika. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-HIGH 6 to 8 minutes. Rotate dish after 3 minutes if pudding seems to be cooking more in one area than another. (Center will not be quite set, but will continue to cook after removing from oven.) Let pudding stand 5 to 10 minutes until set before serving. Makes about 6 servings.

SPANISH CORN PUDDING

2 cups corn kernels (3 large ears)

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, undrained

1/2 cup chopped stuffed green olives, about 30 small

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup milk

2 eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup fine saltine cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Paprika

Place corn and green pepper in 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover and microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes until almost cooked. Add pimientos, olives and parsley.

Place milk in 2-cup measuring cup. Add eggs, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk with fork until well blended. Add custard mixture to hot vegetables with cracker crumbs and butter. Stir well to mix.

Microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH 3 to 5 minutes until outside edges begin to set. Stir casserole from outside edges inward to redistribute heat. Sprinkle top of casserole with paprika, then continue to microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH 4 to 8 minutes longer until most areas are set. Let stand few minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°