Pull away the stringy husks to reveal the treasures inside

“It’s hard to beat the rich, creamy sweetness of a corn on the cob with melted butter and salt, but this recipe for prawn chowder with pasta shells simply wouldn’t be the same without it. Fresh corn is definitely preferable to tinned, if only because it’s infinitely more exciting to pick the ears of corn yourself and then pull away their stringy husks to reveal the buttery yellow prize within.”

Prawn and sweetcorn chowder with pasta shells

Serves 4

Ingredients

Splash of olive oil
Knob of butter
2 leeks, washed and cut into
thin slices
2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 red chilli
Pinch of saffron
1tbspn flour
350ml full-fat milk
2 corn on the cobs
300g cooked king prawns
Handful fresh parsley
500g large pasta shells
Parmesan to serve

Method

Heat a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter in a large frying pan. Add the chopped leeks and fry until softened. Add the celery, garlic and chilli and fry for a further five minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over them and mix it in well. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, until it’s all been added. Take a pinch of saffron and add it to the milk, stirring it through. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the corn on the cobs. Add them to the frying pan and mix them through and then simmer gently.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add a splash of olive oil, then add the pasta shells. Cook until al dente.

Add the prawns and parsley to the frying pan just a few minutes before serving.
To serve, spoon the prawns into the pasta shells and pour the remaining sauce over them. Serve with a lightly dressed salad. Even though Italians can’t abide the thought of grated cheese on any kind of fish pasta, I think this dish tastes delicious with a light dusting of Parmesan.

More ways with sweetcorn

Corn on the cob with flavoured butters

Griddle 6 corn on the cobs until gently charred. Make a few different butters to choose from. Chilli butter: mix together butter, chopped chilli, chopped parsley and seasoning and refrigerate until needed. Garlic-and-herb butter: take a handful of mixed herbs, butter, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, mix together and refrigerate. Pesto butter: mix butter, a little pesto, fresh basil leaves and grated Par-mesan together, then refrigerate. Serve the corn with a choice of butters.

Sweetcorn fritters

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from 2 corn on the cobs and place them in a bowl. Add 2 beaten eggs, salt, pepper and 2tbspn self-raising flour. Mix well, then add half the mixture to a blender and blitz before returning to the original bowl. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into melted butter in a frying pan. Serve with a salsa made from chopped avocado, tomatoes, chilli and spring onions.

* This article was first published in Country Life on August 20 2014
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