Sunday, August 19, 2007

Corn on the Cob

I am here to report that reading can change one's life! A few years ago, I read a Rex Stout story called Murder is Corny. In it, Nero Wolfe expounds on the "right" way to cook corn on the cob. The episode is included in the wonderful cookbook.

It developed that the delivery boy, who was taking some corn also to Rusterman's Restaurant, was attacked and killed behind the restaurant, and the unraveling of that murder is the story of Murder is Corny, during the course of which Wolfe explains to Inspector Cramer the best way to cook corn on the cob.

Wolfe: It must be nearly mature, but not quite, and it must be picked not more than three hours before it reaches me. Do you eat sweet corn?

Cramer: Yes. You're stalling.

Wolfe: No. Who cooks it?

Cramer: My wife. I haven't got a Fritz. [The household chef]

Wolfe: Does she cook it in water?

Cramer: Sure. Is yours cooked in beer? [Wolfe loves beer]

Wolfe: No. Millions of American women, and some men, commit that outrage every summer day. They are turning a superb treat into mere provender. Shucked and boiled in water, sweet corn is edible and nutritious; roasted in husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted, nothing else, it is ambrosia. No chef's ingenuity and imagination have ever created a finer dish.

Before putting in the oven, pull off the loose husk leaves, and cut off the tassel. We have the oven at 425º F. They do cook about 40 minutes.


On the plate.

The taste is so different from boiling it, the only way I ever knew before reading this story, that it could be a different vegetable. Tom got the corn at the Farmer's Market this morning, and though we didn't eat it three hours after picking, I'll bet it wasn't more than six hours. What a taste! I think that this may possibly be my favorite food on the earth. And yes, Tom and I each ate three ears. :<)


  1. Our corn has been so good this summer! I've bought it at three different grocery stores (they stock locally grown corn) and it's all been superb. Tender & sweet. Yum. I cook it in boiling water for exactly 3 minutes. I'll have to try the oven method, although I really hate to turn the oven on for that long in the summer. It really heats up the kitchen!

  2. That's amazing! I've boiled corn and cooked it wrapped in foil in the oven, but never baked it naked like that. I'll have to try it when our corn is ready to eat.

  3. I've never done it quite that way - usually I boil or grill it naked. I'll have to try this. Our Minnesota corn hasn't been so great this year....but today a friend brought over some Iowa corn and it was *yummy*. Guess it's true what they say about Iowa.....(my husband is from there actually, and he agrees!)

  4. That looks wonderful! I also hate to turn on the oven on a hot summer day, but I will have to try this method. Thanks for sharing!

  5. We've grilled it in the husks for years and it is a special treat! We've always done it on a grill though, not in the oven. I'll have to try it the oven this year, for comparison sake. It'll be a good excuse to eat more corn! *grin*

  6. Thank you all for your comments and your enthusiasm! Yesterday morning it was 38º F. in the morning, so we didn't mind the oven heat. :<) Actually, this isn't anything I've ever noticed. I guess it just isn't that hot here for it to matter? Or maybe it is that our kitchen is pretty big with many open windows and doors? The builder of this house did a good job in terms of ventilation, with a door on the east and west that are almost in line with one another. If you try the corn this way, I'd love to hear your responses to the taste.

  7. I used to boil corn, but lately I have been putting it in the microwave, husk and all for about 5-10 minutes. Delicious, but I am going to try your oven method this week. Thank you!

  8. You're welcome,Violet Lady. I'll be interested to know if there is a difference in taste between the microwave and the oven method.

  9. Sounds very interesting but... Fresh corn weather is often very warm, and I'd kind of hate to turn on a high oven then. But I'll take your word for it, that it's amazing. :-)

    Here, we get corn picked that morning, from our fav farm stand. I boil a small amount of water. Drop ears in and leave them for no more than 3 minutes. They aren't totally immersed in 'dreaded water.' ,-) Kind of water and steam but only for 2-3 min. Yummy.

    We just had some for our late meal. Which wasn't very late, as my semi-retired husband still works a couple of evenings a week.



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