You can make creamed corn without cream and still get just what you want from the dish: the texture of cream and the flavor of corn. In fact, creamed corn without cream is a distinct improvement on creamed corn with cream. Relying on the corn’s own starch for thickening guarantees that the dish will be plenty creamy. And without cream to mask the flavor, the dish tastes much more like the essence of corn. (And that’s not even to mention the savings in calories.) You can put an Indian twist on this simple recipe by substituting 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1 large jalapeño chile, chopped, and 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (use a Microplane) for the basil and lemon juice. Or for a Mexican twist, substitute 1 tablespoon chopped chipotles in adobo (smoked jalapeños in a vinegary tomato sauce), 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano. It would also be great with 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbed, and 1 large (8 ounces) ripe tomato, chopped.
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 25 minutes
8 to 9 ears fresh corn
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 scallions (white and light green parts), finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons rinsed, dried, and shredded fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
Cut the corn kernels from the cobs (you should have about 6 cups), Transfer 2 cups to a blender and puree until very smooth. Press the mixture through a strainer into a bowl; reserve the puree.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add whole corn kernels and cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the corn puree and scallions and simmer 2 minutes more. Add the basil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
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