Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite recipes with corn on the cob.
With its tall plants that blow gracefully in the wind and its yellow treasure wrapped in papery leaves, corn-on-the cob is a commanding presence in the kitchen garden. Surprisingly, it’s classified as a grass rather than a vegetable, which is why maize was only deemed fit for cattle for many years. I like to eat the sweetcorn as soon as I can after picking it, when the kernels are still sweet and tender. Cooking cobs over the barbecue, as I recommend here, helps to retain their delicious flavour.
Barbecued corn-on-the-cob with rose-harissa chicken and kale chips (serves 4)
For the rose harissa
Half a red pepper
3 medium tomatoes
1 red onion
1tbspn tomato purée
Juice of half a lemon
1tspn coriander seeds
1tspn caraway seeds
1tspn cumin seeds
1tspn pepper corns
1tspn sea salt
6 hot red chillies
4 cloves garlic
2tbspn dried rose petals
Splash of red-wine vinegar
Splash of olive oil
4 ears of corn
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
200g Greek yoghurt
To make the harissa, preheat your oven to 150 ̊C/300 ̊F/gas mark 2, place the red pepper, halved tomatoes, quartered red onion and cloves of garlic into a bowl and drizzle olive oil over them and mix well so all the ingre- dients are evenly coated, then place them on a roasting tray in the oven for about an hour, with the tomatoes cut side up. Once cool, blitz them in a food processor (having peeled the garlic) with the red chillies (stalks and seeds removed), lemon juice, spices, rose petals, rosewater and seasoning to make a thick paste. Stir the red-wine vinegar, tomato purée and olive oil through it and store in a sterilised jar—if refrigerated, it should keep for a month.
To tenderise the chicken, mix a couple of tablespoons of harissa into the Greek yoghurt, then spoon it into a freezer bag containing the chicken breasts and move the bag about, so the meat is fully coated, before leaving in the fridge for up to a day. Once thoroughly mari- nated, remove the chicken from the bag and barbecue it for about 30–40 minutes or until cooked right through.
Soak the ears of corn in cold water for about 15 minutes, peel back the husks, then remove and discard the silky strands and smear butter over the corn kernels, before pulling the husks back up over the cobs and barbecuing for about 20 minutes. Soaking and peeling back the husks creates space around the corn, which helps it to retain its unmistakable flavour.
Place a small sheet of foil over the grill on your barbecue, add the kale pieces (tossed with olive oil) and cook for about seven minutes until crispy, then sprinkle sea salt over them.
Serve the corn-on-the-cobs with the barbecued chicken and kale chips on the side. You could also brush harissa over the corn, if you like things spiced up!
More ways with corn-on-the-cob
Chicken, sweetcorn and quinoa soup
Cut the corn from two cobs and place in a large saucepan with a splash of olive oil. Add a finely diced brown onion, one diced carrot, one diced celery stalk, two diced rashers of bacon, one diced chicken breast, a handful mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil and thyme) and fry gently to infuse all the flavours for about 6–8 minutes. Set half of the ingredients aside in a bowl before pouring 900ml chicken stock into the saucepan and puréeing the soup with a stick blender. Return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, add 250g cooked quinoa (I use the microwaveable sachets when in a hurry), mix thoroughly together and heat gently. Finally, add a dollop of crème fraîche, some freshly chopped parsley and serve with artisan olive bread.
Chilli creamed sweetcorn
Take four ears of corn and grate the kernels from two of them into a frying pan, then cut the kernels from the other two and add them to the same pan. Add two table- spoons of butter and seasoning, a few sliced jalapeño chillies and a handful chopped parsley. Mix well and serve with barbecued chicken and baked potatoes with sour cream.
Corn-on-the-cob flavoured salt
Take half a cup of good-quality salt, such as Maldon, and add a handful of freshly chopped basil, the zest of one lemon and two tea- spoons of dried chilli flakes. Mix together, then sprinkle over freshly cooked and buttered sweetcorn. If stored in a jar, the salt should keep for about a week.