There are few things we relish as much as super sweet corn on a hot day in July. Often, when the corn is good enough (and in New York in July it’s always good enough) we’ll eat an ear, raw, before heading home from the Greenmaket — standing in the park, our bags of produce propped against our legs, the kernels cold and crunchy, sweet starchy juice dribbling down our chin in defiance of the hot sun.
The ways in which one can use corn are endless, to be sure. But here’s an unusual one we just can’t get enough of: corn butter. No, it’s not corn with butter. Like its fellow fruit butters (say, apple, or pumpkin) it’s nothing more than a reduction, a concentration of one delicious ingredient. But unlike its fellow fruit butters, this one calls for nothing, literally nothing, than corn itself.
We came across “corn butter” last summer (in the pages of the sadly now defunct Gilt Taste) and it is magical. It’s nothing but the sweetest, freshest corn you can find, a touch of salt (only if you wish!), a few minutes at the stove and, voilà! In but fifteen minutes you’ll find yourself cradling a bowl of silky yellow goodness, all the best things about corn in a surprisingly creamy, deliciously sweet form. It’s best if you can make it with corn picked just that morning — the sweeter, the better!
What a way to use up the excess corn bounty in the northeast in the summer. We imagine spreading corn butter on toast with bit of freshly cracked pepper, or layering it into a sandwich, or we might add a dollop along side roasted mushrooms. But really, it’s fantastic in pasta. Our favorite? Freshly cut pappardelle from Savino’s down the street, tossed generously with corn butter and topped with grilled chorizo from the Meat Hook–a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, oh-so-summery dish.
makes a generous two cups
12 ears of corn, shucked
1. Cut the kernels off each ear of corn, squeezing as much juice as possible from the cob itself.
2. If you have a juicer, lucky you! Juice the kernels. If you don’t, purée (we used our immersion blender, though any good blender should do just fine) and push through a fine mesh sieve. If you really want to go for it (and why wouldn’t you?), squeeze the solids a second time through cheese cloth. Discard the solids.
3. Pour the corn juice into a small, non reactive sauce pan. Whisk over medium heat until the juice has thickened, it will be the consistency of thick custard. This will take about five minutes. The starches in the corn juice help it thicken, but don’t push the heat too high or it will burn.
4. Remove from heat, and season with salt if desired. Enjoy!