Thomas Keller is a genius.
No, I’ve never eaten at his restaurants. But I have tried a handful of recipes from his cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home.
In his recipes, he takes ordinary ingredients and elevates them to the extraordinary.
Take this creamed corn, for example. Simple, straightforward technique. Seven ingredients, none of them expensive or difficult to find. And yet you have never tasted creamed corn this good.
The star of this recipe is the corn. The other ingredients are just supporting players. They never compete for the spotlight. And yet they build upon one another, helping the corn to shine brighter and brighter.
The corn flavor becomes rich and intense but retains its sweet crunch. The lime brightens it, the cream mellows it, and the cayenne gives it a little kick.
It’s corn season in the Northeast, but only for a few more weeks. If you're going to try this recipe--and I really hope you do--then now is the time!
Start with fresh, sweet corn.
Remove the husk and as much of the silks as you can.
Cut the kernels off the cobs. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to place a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl. Slice off the stem end of the corn cob to give yourself a stable base. Then stand the cob on the small bowl and slice vertically down. The large bowl will catch the kernels as you cut them off and they won’t go flying all over your counter.
Once you’ve removed the kernels, take a spoon and scrape any remaining bits of corn and the milk from the cob. Take the time to do this. The milk from the cob has a lot of flavor.
Melt butter in a frying pan. Add the corn, a squeeze of lime and salt.
Cook for about 15 minutes. This step really intensifies the flavor of the corn.
Add the cream, lime zest and cayenne.
Continue to cook for a few more minutes. The corn will absorb some of the cream and the cream will absorb the flavor of the corn.
Turn off the heat and stir in the chives.
Creamed Summer Corn
Recipe by Thomas Keller from Ad Hoc at Home
6 ears supersweet corn, shucked
1 large lime
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 ½ Tbsp finely chopped chives
1. With a sharp knife, cut vertically down each ear of corn to slice off the kernels. Put the kernels in a large bowl, then hold each cop over the bowl and use a spoon or the back of a knife to scrape any remaining corn and the milk from the cob.
2. Grate the zest of the lime, preferably with a microplane grater; set aside. Cut the lime in half.
3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the corn, squeeze about 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, or to taste, over the corn, and season with salt.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated, concentrating the flavour, and the corn is beginning to sizzle, 15 to 17 minutes.
5. Stir in ¾ cup cream, the cayenne, and lime zest. Continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cream is absorbed by the corn. Add up to ¼ cup more cream if desired for a creamier texture. Add salt to taste and stir in the chives.