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Culinary Spotlight: Summer’s Gold: Corn

Mezzaluna’s Joe Brunner tells you how why corn is summer’s best commodity.

Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt

Why does everyone seem to go crazy as soon as you see the first sweet corn stand? Because it’s summer. We’ve been waiting for this moment for eight long and cold months. And if the highlight is a juicy, crunchy, ear of corn, I’m a happy camper.

Corn, as we know it today, is said to have been created by man, some 7,000 years ago. It started off as a wild grass grown in central Mexico. Corn found its way into the present-day Eastern woodlands of the now United States roughly 1,000 years ago. From then on, Christopher Columbus made contact with the people of the Americas and he brought corn back home and spread its wealth throughout Europe.

Some can say that corn is one of or is the most important crop because of its versatility. Everything on the plant is usable, nothing is wasted. Kernels are ground into food, husks used to make tamales, stalks can be made into animal food. Food products from corn include corn oil, corn meal, corn syrup, corn starch and even some alcohols. Other uses include everyday products like spark plugs, drywall, aspirin and the biggest one of them all, ethanol. Other than the great uses from corn, it brings with it a seasonal romance because of its short growing season here in North Dakota.

With the corn season being so short if you’re going to be getting it locally, you have to move quickly. When I was growing up, during the summer, corn was at the table for almost every meal. One can only have a boiled an ear of corn so many times in those short four months without wanting it prepared some other way. It could be made by cutting off the kernels and using those kernels to make homemade creamed corn. Also, you could take that cob, roasting it in the oven, placing it in cold water and bringing it up to a simmer to create an awesome corn stock that you can use in a soup or even risotto.

And remember those silks that you tore off when shucking? Those can also be saved and used in a century’s old household remedy, corn silk tea.

New ways of using corn are being developed every day, the only limitation is our own imagination.

Serves 5

Bacon & Corn Griddle Cakes

Ingredients

1 Cup Corn Meal
1 Cup Flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
2.5 Cups whole milk
1 Cup cheddar cheese
1 Cup Raw corn kernels
1 Cup cooked, diced bacon
3 green onions, finely sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

1. Mix together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt in a medium sized bowl.

2. In a separate bowl mix together egg, milk, cheddar cheese, green onion, corn, and bacon.

3. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry.

4. Heat up a cast iron skillet or sauté pan on medium heat. Add butter and oil, melt.

5. Once butter and oil are melted, spoon in the batter to the desired size. Once the one side has caramelized (2 minutes), flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and serve.

Joe Brunner

Written by Joe Brunner

South Fargo native Joe Brunner is the co-owner and executive chef at Fargo dining staple Mezzaluna.

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