A sack of Silver King corn, purchased on last week’s Labor Day trip to the Alabama coast, sat in my fridge all week. I know, fresh corn should be cooked within milliseconds of picking, it’s turning starchy with every passing moment, etc. Anyway, after five days, I finally got around to cutting it off the cob: messy, knuckle-busting work, if you do it properly and thoroughly scrape the cobs to release the “milk”. (Cajun French lesson for the day: the verb describing this act is ebrecher, which means “to chip”.)
To cut corn off the cob: shuck the corn and remove as much silk as humanly possible. Stand the shucked corn on end; using a heavy-bladed knife and back-n-forth motion, slice the kernels off of the cob from end to end. Rotate the cob and repeat. Don’t worry about cutting too deep: when the kernels are removed, turn the knife over and scrape the back of the blade vigorously down the length of the cob. Corn milk will splatter everywhere; try to scrape the cobs over a large bowl or dishpan to catch the liquid.
Juices from the scraped cobs are important: the starchy fluid thickens cooking corn, an important quality of macque choux (succotash’s Cajun cousin, with obvious Native American roots). Macque choux combines the ebreche’d corn with onions, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes and seasonings sauteed in bacon grease or butter. Modern recipes substitute dairy (heavy cream, evaporated milk) as a thickener in place of the cob scrapings; okay, I guess, if you’re already using the shortcut of canned or frozen corn. When the fresh article is on hand, why not scrape the cobs and skip the dairy?
Measurements aren’t really necessary for a dish like this. Chop as much onion as you like, a bell pepper or two, and a couple of fresh tomatoes. (I didn’t have any tomatoes, so the resulting dish lacks the usual color.) Over medium-high heat, saute the onions in a generous amount of butter or bacon grease until well-browned, then add chopped bell pepper, chopped garlic, and pinch of salt. Once the bell pepper is tender, add the corn kernels & cob scrapings, a sprinkling of fresh thyme, and a good 1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the corn is heated through and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
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