Summer Corn Salad…

IMG_3157Bubbled or Brewed, Souffle’d or Stewed. Roasted or Raw, Fresh or Fried…Corn nourishes the South. When Settlers bringing domesticated hogs stepped onto land in what is now Virginia and met Native Americans bearing corn- Southern Cuisine was born.

From Pig to Pone, Pot to Plate- take Corn from the Southern Pantry and more than half of our delicious diet would collapse in despair!

Corn feeds our livestock and our families all year round. If you’ve never rustled down a row of sweet corn, well, you’ve missed one of the great joys of summer. The first ripe ears of corn are a sight to behold, the most highly prized Summer Corn of my youth was White Corn- Yellow Corn was preferred boiled or roasted on the Cob. The merits of white cornmeal versus yellow cornmeal continues on- I have to admit I still prefer White Corn, White Grits and White Cornmeal. Someone jokingly told me recently that if you preferred Yellow- chances are you’re either a Yankee or an Aristocratic Descendent of Carpetbaggers, who  probably sneaked in yellow seed corn! Actually I’m glad they did! Yellow Corn is wonderful! I’ll admit that Yellow Corn on the Cob and in Shrimp Boils can’t be beat, but that’s getting off on a tangent…Before Summer Corn gives way to the dried and ground Cornmeal of Autumn, I’m  thrilled to bring you a Southern dish that won’t have you breaking a sweat to prepare. (Besides Southern ladies don’t sweat– we perspire delicately.) Summer Corn Salad. IMG_3162

Because of the heat and humidity, Garden Lettuce wilts before Spring has barely sprung. Try to grow lettuce in our climate and it will just up and bolt on you! Therefore, many of our Summer Salads are based  on Seasonal Vegetables, like Summer Corn Salad- now, this salad is so familiar that I have to confess- I don’t own a cookbook which records how to make it, though I’m sure someone somewhere did put pen to paper for it.

Camellia’s Cottage Summer Corn Salad

  • In a large bowl, take 3 fresh shucked ears of White Corn – cut kernels and scrape juices from the cob. (Do not cook, y’all- it will ruin it.)
  • Add additional vegetables to the large bowl of Cut Corn.  All vegetables should be chopped in small dice. IMG_3157
  • Chop- 1/2 of a good sized Purple Onion
  • Seed and chop in  either one large or preferably two small pickling Cucumbers (I leave the skin on- but peel if you prefer before chopping- no need to seed small summer pickling cucumbers)
  • One large Summer Tomato- cut and chopped.
  • One medium Green or Yellow Bell Pepper, cut and chopped. Do not overdo the Bell Pepper, try to keep the added vegetables in the same quantity- about 3/4 to one cup.
  • *If you like a little extra zing, like I do- add chopped and finely diced Jalapeno Pepper to taste, I used one half of a large jalapeno.
  • Dressing *Before mixing the corn and other vegetables together- In the bowl, add on top of the vegetables-  4oz of Sour Cream, 1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder; squeeze the juice of a medium size lemon on top of the sour cream. Add fresh cracked Black Pepper and Salt to taste.
  • Gently stir and combine all of the ingredients, being careful not to break up the tomatoes.  Summer Corn Salad is best if refrigerated several hours or overnight- keep covered until it is served. IMG_3162

The best thing about Summer Corn Salad- besides the fresh taste is no cooking required! This is a wonderful side dish with anything from Pit Barbeque to Fried Chicken, Country Ham…oh! and let’s not forget Fried Fish or as a great addition to a Southern Vegetable Plate. I hope you love Summer Corn Salad as much as I do! Oh, lordie- Pig to Pone…now that’s corny.

Love y’all, Camellia

 

Fried Corn…

IMG_3093The closer you live to a Corn Field the better your life will be. When corn is ripe, you can literally shuck it in the field and eat the sweet corn kernels right off the cob. Like most Southerners, I prefer White Cornmeal, White Hominy Grits and White Corn for most Casseroles, Soups or Souffle and in Fried Corn . One of the thrills of driving to Gulf Shores, Alabama in the early summer  are the homemade road signs- ‘Silver Queen Corn’… which ripens sooner in South Alabama than just about anywhere. I love to go to Farmers Markets and hear folks asking- ‘Now, when did you say this corn was picked? This morning? It’s probably almost dried out by now…‘ We do love our fresh corn, white or yellow. Hands down, my favorite summer meal is:IMG_3092

  • Fried Chicken,
  • Hot homemade Biscuits,
  • Fresh Ripe Summer Tomatoes- sliced please…
  • Fresh Green Beans and –
  • Fried Corn.

If your mouth is watering, you must have some Southern blood running in your veins somewhere. To my feeble mind and my favorite memories, this meal was top of my list of Southern Comfort Food. I would guess, unless you are at least three generations Southern, you may have never tasted this delicacy called Fried Corn. A famous chef, who returned to his home state of Alabama to open a restaurant planned to serve upscale dining with a down home Southern twist. One thing the chef planned to serve was Fried Corn. He purchased fresh white corn from the Farmers Market only to find that it didn’t taste quite the same as he recalled. As the story unfolded, he discovered that the Fried Corn of his youth was made from field corn, now grown almost exclusively for livestock feed, not for human consumption! Well, it’s even rarer to find field corn now that a whole lot of livestock is grass fed. This very accomplished chef now grows his own field corn! White Field Corn might be heirloom by now…I do know that field corn was dried and saved – to use a seed corn the next year. After I read the chef’s account, I asked a farmer’s wife, who happens to put up with my stupid questions because she’s a true friend- ‘Does anyone grow Field Corn any more?’ She could not think of a soul who still grows it to sell at our local Farmers Market! Nowadays we have to satisfy ourselves with hybrids, like Silver Queen, in our favorite white corn recipes and we have to add a slurry of Corn Starch to the skillet of Fried Corn to make it come close to our childhood memories.IMG_3090

Fried Corn is a Southern delicacy. It’s not the same as Creamed Corn, it’s not even close to Corn Casserole much less a Corn Souffle… no, it is made with very finely cut corn, the scraped juices from the cob and pan drippings- from panfried chicken or smoky bacon, then finished with a generous amount of butter. That’s right, no milk or cream in Fried Corn. Blessed is the cook who knows the old family recipe or owns an old Southern Cookbook with the heavenly recipe for Fried Corn! If you have a well seasoned Iron Skillet even better!

Camellia’s Cottage Fried Corn

  • 4-6 ears of the freshest white corn you can find- on the cob still with tight green leaves and black silks.
  • 3-4 slices of Thick Cut Bacon- fried crisp and set aside Reserve 1-2 Tablespoons of Bacon Drippings in the skillet.
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch stirred in 1/2 cup of water to make a slurry.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Butter

Shuck the corn, cleaning off the silks. *Fried Corn depends on double cutting the corn kernels off the cob. In a large bowl, with a sharp knife, with the stem end standing in a bowl, with a downward motion, slice the tips of the corn kernels off the cob- it will resemble a square cob- cut the ‘corners’ off, then cut the remaining kernels off the cob, scraping the natural juices from the corn (this is the corn’s natural corn starch. Cutting the corn in this manner is critical to Fried Corn. Add Corn Starch Slurry to the finely sliced corn. Place bowl of corn, a large spoon and a potato masher, directly by the stove, to be ready to fry the corn.

Heat the Iron Skillet with reserved Bacon Drippings until the Skillet is as hot as the Black Bells of Hell. Meanwhile, not leaving the stove, quickly pour corn and slurry into the hot skillet and drippings, you should hear a sizzle. Reduce heat to low.  Stir until corn begins to thicken, use a potato masher to press even more juices out of the kernels.  Simmer until the corn is thick and tender.  Usually 10-12 minutes. Add Butter, cover the skillet and turn off heat, until ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste. IMG_3091

Crumble Reserved Bacon as a garnish if desired. Oh my goodness! If you don’t try another thing this summer, quick! Go buy some fresh plump white corn and make a batch of Fried Corn. I love to ladle some into a bowl and chop a fresh tomato on top. Sweet, salty, smoky, buttery- what more could you ask? Eat it like a warm summer soup, great on a rainy day or any day! And the next time you’re having Fried Chicken…well, enough said… IMG_3093

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine…