Nothing beats the almost feral pleasure of picking up a hot ear of corn and digging in as the salty, buttery juices drip down your arm and bits of kernel wedge in your teeth. A true summertime treat! But when the occasion calls for something a little more refined, try shaving the kernels off the cob and popping them into a frying pan where they slowly caramelize, turning burnished and gold and sweet.
This recipe makes a nice side dish or a delicious stuffing for baked bell peppers. You can also roll it into a tortilla with some shredded chicken and queso fresco and a dash or two of hot sauce.
Caramelized Corn with Tomatoes and Bacon
3 strips of bacon
3 ears of fresh corn
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
pinch of sugar
2 perfectly ripe tomatoes
several fresh basil leaves, shredded or about 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cut the bacon into 2 inch pieces and fry in a large skillet over meduim-low heat. As the bacon gently cooks, cut the kernels off the corn and chop the onion.
When the bacon has crisped, remove from the pan with a tongs and drain on paper towels or newspaper. Leave the fat in the pan and the heat turned down medium-low. Add the onion and sauté for about one minute and then add the corn. Sprinkle on the sugar and stir gently. If the pan seems to dry, you can add up to 1 tablespoon of butter but be careful, you don't want the dish to get greasy.
Keep an eye on things, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the corn starts to turn golden brown and smells caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into large chunks and place in a serving bowl. When the corn is no longer hot, add to the tomatoes and the reserved bacon and toss gently. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
(Image: Dana Velden)