Canned cream corn was a “typhoon special menu item” in our home. As soon as we turned to “de-lata” mode we were sure to have cream corn in there somewhere. We weren’t even discriminating about what to serve it with… I recall eating cream corn with adobo, fried chicken and even with Vienna sausages! Today, we still stock cream corn in the pantry, usually to serve as a side dish when we have steak or pan-fried double pork chops. But after I recently tried this recipe for “Creamless Cream Corn” by Tom Colicchio of Gramercy Tavern and Craft restaurant fame, I will never look at canned cream corn in the same way…
First of all, the recipe calls for white corn, which tends to be almost sweeter in the U.S., but there wasn’t any white corn on offer at the roadside stands on the way to Tagaytay. They had sweet yellow corn, and frankly, early in the morning when we drove by, the ears looked like they had been picked the day before. For once this is the condition I precisely needed, as a day or even two day old corn is better for this recipe. The sugars will have started to turn to starch, making the dish seem even creamier!
I started off with nearly 20 ears of yellow corn, and tried to use this contraption that was supposed to make kernel removal a breeze. Not sure if I was using it correctly, but it was a bit of a pain in the neck. If it’s true that the company has already sold over 1 million of these stainless steel gadgets, there must be 999,000 of them hiding in the back of people’s kitchen drawers… We ended up taking out a chef’s knife and in just a few minutes cut the kernels off all the corn cobs. Discard the cobs or use them in a corn stock if you like.
In a large enough skillet or dutch oven, I added about 2/3 of a cup of butter over medium heat, and about 1/2 cup of minced onion. I let this saute for a couple of minutes until the onion was just translucent. Add about 2/3 of all the corn you have cut off the cobs and saute for several minutes, mixing every once in a while.
Meanwhile, take the remaining 1/3 of the corn kernels, put it in a powerful blender with a cup of water, and blitz it good. Strain the mush or puree and put this in a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes and the sauce will thicken up. Take this off the heat. Season with some salt and pepper.
The transformation of the corn and water mush into a lcreamy sauce is quite amazing actually. So simple to do, but the heating of the serious starch content results in a very creamy sauce. Now you should have a saute pan with corn butter and onion and another pan with the corn sauce.
When the corn kernels sauteing in butter is cooked, take it off the heat and add the creamy sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
You will be amazed by how this dish looks… so simple yet so appealing and attractive.
Add some chopped fresh tarragon and some minced grilled red peppers (my addition) and mix gently.
Serve immediately. A wonderful dish. A little more effort than taking a can opener out and popping the lid of a tin, but the results were well worth it. The best cream corn I have ever tasted. And all ingredients were locally sourced.