Corn and summer go hand in hand. To me, the sensation of the crisp popping of fresh, sweet corn and the butter melting on the shiny kernels sends me back to the dining room table of my childhood with the back door open as the day's heat gives way to the cool breezes of twilight. Fresh corn is the signal to me that summer is here. As soon as I see it in the store, I start eating corn like its my job and I don't stop until it disappears. I have been known to eat corn for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
My mother taught me how to test corn for freshness before you buy it. Peel back a little bit of the husk and poke a kernel with your fingernail. If it pops easily and a little juice comes out, the corn is fresh. If you exert a little pressure and your fingernail doesn't pierce the kernel, the corn is probably a few days old and it will be starchy and bland. Don't waste your money or time on old corn. It is always a disappointment.
There are many ways to prepare fresh corn, but perhaps the best way to enjoy it is boiled right off the cob. Shuck your corn, clean off the silk and boil it covered in plain water. It is done when you lift the lid and can smell it, which should happen after 10 to 15 minutes of boiling. I also love grilled corn and I have a foolproof method. Some grilled corn recipes recommend soaking the entire ear of corn and grilling it in the husk, but I have never been successful with that technique.
Of course, there are hundreds of great corn recipes out there and you can do whatever strikes your fancy. I tried something recently that I thought was worth repeating. I cut the kernels off three ears of fresh corn and scraped the cobs to get all the corn milk and goodness out. In a small cast iron pan over medium heat, I melted a tablespoon of butter and sauteed two sliced green onions and a small clove of minced garlic until the garlic just started to brown. I dumped the corn into the pan and added a little salt and pepper and another tablespoon of butter. I let the corn saute over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, just until the liquid began to evaporate, then I added a small splash of half and half. I cooked it for a few minutes more just to incorporate the half and half and added a couple of chopped fresh basil leaves at the end. I served it with a lovely piece of perfectly cooked arctic char and sauteed swiss chard. It was absolutely mouth watering. The corn took on a pronounced sweetness as it cooked, but the garlic and green onions kept it savory and the basil gave it a wonderful pop of flavor. I will most certainly make this dish again and I hope you'll give it a try.