Quite a long time ago when Anthony’s cousin Depeche was still mostly a boy but beginning to hit his teenage years he hit a growth spurt. He seemingly grew two feet over a single summer and by the time Halloween rolled around he had completely transformed. He was still young on the inside, however, his personality had yet to grow into its new frame. We started talking about costumes and he mentioned wanting to be a pumpkin. “You should be a corn!” suggested Grandma Juani helpfully.
That story always comes to mind for me whenever I’m sitting over a compost bin pulling the tough husks and silk-soft strings off an ear of corn. I’ve never really minded this chore but I heard about a new method for shucking that was supposed to be easier and neater and involved the microwave. I was intrigued. I watched the intrepid America’s Test Kitchen chef in this video simply slide the corn out of his husky jacket after a few minutes in a microwave.
Although I’m not a fan of cooking complete meals with a microwave, it is a fantastic technology and I’m very interested in finding new ways to use it. The technique is simple enough: slice the bottoms off an ear of corn about an inch above the stem. Microwave on a plate for 2-4 minutes. Grab the top end and use a combination of shaking and squeezing to release the cob of corn.
I was cooking a bunch of corn for a Mother’s Day dinner with my parents, and my microwave is rather small, so I could only fit a few ears in at a time. This was actually a good thing because I experimented with the timing. I happen to have a 900 watt model, and it seemed that the hotter your corn was when you pulled it out, the easier it was to shuck. At two minutes the corn didn’t want to come out at all and was completely not worth it: there was struggle, mess, and burnt fingers. At four minutes, the corn eased out well, but the ear was so hot I had to wear oven mitts, which made the process at bit more cumbersome and clumsy. The chef in the video just uses his hands like a boss, but I am a delicate flower (ahem) and found them impossible to touch without protection.
At this point when the corn comes out it’s not perfectly clean. There will be some clinging hairs left on the cob, just as you’d have by shucking them the regular way. But keep in mind the cobs are merely peeled, not cooked, so they still need a few minutes in a boiling pot of water before they are ready, and that helps remove any stringy hangers-on.
I really like this method, though I’m not sure I’m going to give up shucking by hand completely. It’s a rather satisfying process, something you can do with your hands while your mind is busy solving abstract algebraic equations or worrying pointlessly about whether or it it will rain on your child’s birthday next year. Or you could watch a rerun of the Bad Girl’s Club. Whatever. It’s a great chore for a kid to learn to do, too, and safer to teach them than using the microwave. But I do think I’ll try it again.
This particular corn was so fresh and good we ate it as is with a smear of butter, a sprinkling of salt and a crack of fresh black pepper. I blanched some asparagus (which was thankfully still good), and my Dad grilled some chicken and we had a lovely meal on the patio. Our heat went out last fall, if you remember, and that means we have no air conditioning, either, so it was a miserable 85 degrees F inside the house. Ugh. It was much cooler on the patio and nicer, too.
It was simple and straightforward and delicious and easy.