As summer makes way for fall, you may find yourself with a bunch of corn lying around the kitchen. The markets tend to sell them for cheap near the end of summer to make way for fall produce. If you have a bunch of corn left over and you’re sick of corn of the cob, try this simple corn sauce recipe made only with TWO ingredients: corn and salt. You will also need a blender and a strainer, or better yet a juicer.
This sauce is very versatile. I personally love using it to sauce a pasta or serving it with pan seared chicken, but combining it with the right ingredients can really help evoke the flavors of foods from different regions and cultures. In the case of the langoustine agnolotti pictured above, I wanted to pay homage to the Maryland crab boil. There is Old Bay and lemon in the langoustine filling and the plate is garnished with smoked paprika to mimic the kielbasa.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Go dairy free and use this to replace butter when making polenta
- Add lime juice, chili powder and epazote for a taste of Mexico
- Thin with vegetable stock and add cooked beans, sauted diced red pepper and onions. Chill and serve as a succotash gazpacho
- Throw it into an ice cream maker! Results vary depending on starch/sugar levels of corn but its always fun to experiment
8 ears of corn (yields enough to sauce a pasta meal to serve 4)
Salt to taste
– Carefully cut the kernels off of cob
– Blend in blender until extremely smooth, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Alternatively, run through a juicer (keep the pulp for a bonus treat)
– Place liquid in a small pot and bring to a boil on medium heat
– Lower heat and let simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The liquid will thicken on its own
– Season with salt and remove from heat
If you juiced the corn you will have a lot of pulp remaining. Evenly spread the corn pulp onto a parchment lined sheet tray and let dehydrate in the oven at its lowest setting until completely dry. It is important NOT to use the convection function because the fan will blow the corn off the tray. Once dried and cooled, saute in melted butter and season lightly. You know have a garnish that tastes like fresh popcorn!
So the first time I made this was on the fly when my old chef wanted a corn sauce to go in a chanterelle mushroom pasta dish. My initial thought was to reduce the corn liquid in half to thicken it and was surprised that it thickened the moment it came up to a boil. It bothered me for the whole night. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized what happened when I looked at a quart of uncooked corn juice that had the opportunity to settle. It had separated into a thin yellow liquid on top and small thick white mass on the bottom. It was then I realized that the juice came with its own emulsifier and thickening agent: Cornstarch!
I know. It seems very obvious in retrospect but people (including myself) tend to take processed ingredients for granted. I have used cornstarch to thicken many sauces and what I usually use is white powder that comes in a yellow Argo box. But I never consciously made the connection that the cornstarch naturally present in corn can be used for its thickening properties. Often ingredients are extracted from foods to fill a particular role in the kitchen (starch from corn, sugar from beets) and its easy to forget that these ingredients once had a home in a living object. Seeing the corn sauce thicken on its own has reminded me to always think about the scientific properties of food that are hidden in plain sight.