There is nothing quite so satisfying as biting into fresh, picked within hours, cob of corn. Sweet, juicy – and, dare I say it, can be eaten without butter – it is so good. This is my favourite way to eat sweet corn, and we have certainly been getting our fill this season.
Alas, once corn sits around for a few days on a supermarket shelf, or forgotten in a fridge drawer, it loses its juiciness as the sugars begin to convert to starch. That is when butter is a necessary accompaniment for boiled sweet corn. The starch conversion also lends itself superbly to creamy corn chowder, with a touch of smoke if desired.
How To: Hot Smoke Sweetcorn
With the majority of our summer cooking performed on a barbecue, I had time to experiment with different types of outdoor cooking such as smoking fish and vegetables. Admittedly, now I have a functioning kitchen again I chose to smoke the corn inside in preparation for this recipe. Learn from my mistake and do this outside 😉
Preparation time: 10 minutes
You will need:
Large lidded roasting dish (I used a secondhand enamel roasting dish now used specifically for smoking)
1 cup manuka chips (available from barbecue suppliers)
Small aluminium baking tray OR shape one out of tin foil to fit your dish
2 sweet corn cobs
Scatter the manuka chips in the base of the dish and cover with the inverted aluminium tray, use a skewer to poke 10-12 holes in the tray for the smoke to seep through.
Peel most of the husks from the corn, leaving a single layer around the kernels, as the direct smoke will make the corn bitter.
Sit the corn directly on the aluminium tray and cover with the lid. Place the dish on the barbecue, or an outdoor gas hob over low heat. Gently heat until you see a trail of smoke escaping – if using a heavy lid check after five minutes. Smoke the corn for two minutes, no longer or it will overpower the chowder. Remove from the heat, immediately remove the corn and discard the husks.
This setup can be used to smoke fish, pork belly, mushrooms, cheese, and more.
Smoked Sweetcorn Chowder
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 bacon rashers, optional addition if not smoking the corn
- 3 potatoes, about 400g, cut into 1cm cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or thyme
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 corn cobs, smoked or fresh – see above
- ½ cup cream or coconut cream
- Salt and cracked pepper to taste
- Thyme leaves to garnish
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat.
Add the onions and bacon, if using, and saute until softened. Add the potatoes, garlic, tarragon or thyme, and flour. Stir for several minutes until fragrant. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
Remove the husk from the corn, and cut the kernels from the cob – to do this I set the base of the corn in a bowl and use a small sharp knife to cut down the length of the cob. Add to the soup and cook for a further five minutes.
The next step is optional but gives the chowder a more creamy consistency. Scoop half of the soup into a bowl and use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Pour back into the pot and reheat.
Add the cream and reheat gently. Check and adjust seasoning to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and scatter with thyme leaves. Serve with freshly baked sourdough bread.