Even if we Americans are “corn chips with legs” (Berkeley biologist Todd Dawson as quoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma), there is still something to be said for fresh corn eaten as summer winds down and autumn begins creeping in through the back door.
Man of La Muncha and I received a bounty of corn in our weekly CSA box. As a result, we have grilled corn on the cob at least twice this week. Typically, we strip the husks from the ears and grill them outside on the patio, but recent weather hasn’t been amenable to outdoor grilling recently. So on Thursday, Man of La Muncha used the cast-iron grill set on our stovetop in order to make our corn. On Friday, with the weather much improved, we moved back outside for our grilling needs.
I am a long-standing fan of that classic corn accompaniment butter, and Man of La Muncha makes a fantastic butter-based sauce to drizzle over the top of grilled corn. In addition to butter, the sauce has a bit of lime juice and some red pepper flakes. Rubbed over the top of freshly grilled corn, it provides a tart-spicy contrast that enhances the sweetness of the corn. As a bonus, lime releases some of the nutrients present in corn that otherwise can’t be digested by humans.
On Thursday, we had our corn alongside steak from Dakota Beef Company, which Man of La Muncha grilled with our corn. It was definitely not local, but was so flavorful that we only felt slightly guilty. Plus, it was organic, unlike Oregon Country Beef, and Dakota Beef is working with a network of ranchers. We also had a light salad of cherry tomatoes sliced and tossed with basil and lightly drizzled with olive oil, and a bottle of cabernet franc from Sineann to go alongside our meal.
Sineann is one of our favorite wineries. The cabernet franc had a fruitiness somewhat reminiscent of blueberries and red currants that went well with our meal.
On Friday, we had more corn, this time accompanied by a lamb shoulder chop from Umpqua Valley. The weather had turned warm, perhaps the last hurrah before the rains set in, so we opted to grill on the back patio. Man of La Muncha set up our small portable gas grill, lit it up, and added the corn and the lamb.
Unfortunately, the grill had not been cleaned after the last time we used it, and the barbecue sauce that was cooked onto the bottom of the grill burned and smoked. As a result, the corn came out with a distinctly smoky appearance, which did not detract from the resulting tastiness. Man of la Muncha, in an experimental mood, added olive oil to the butter/lime/red pepper flakes sauce described above. While I can’t say that it was better than the standard mixture he makes, it was highly enjoyable.
The lamb was tasty, if a bit less bloody than I generally prefer. We also had a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, dill, lemon juice, and olive oil, and a cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend from Skagit Valley called Tulip Valley Red Barn Red. The wine was tannic and tart, and provided a solid accompaniment to the lamb, salad, and corn.
Corn products may be a bigger part of our diet than we realize. However, corn on its own, served with flattering accompaniments, is one of the true pleasures provided by the end of summer. So before the clouds roll in and the rains start, enjoy some summer corn.
Note: Photos by Man of La Muncha.