If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you probably haven’t given a lot of thought to creamed corn. It’s a common enough dish in the Midwest and the South, and even New England where it is thought to have originated, but here it’s mostly just a can in the vegetable aisle. Growing up, my mom never made it despite the fact that we grew corn. I do have a memory of my grandmother, who lived in the Okanogan area in British Columbia, making me creamed corn from the considerable number of cobs growing in her sunny back yard. Other than that, I’ve used canned cream corn in a couple of recipes over the years, finding the glutinous mixture not particularly appealing.
It’s time for all of that to change. We have access to some spectacularly sweet corn, whether it’s from California or later in the season, from a local farm. Every year, I find two new recipes to demonstrate at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival (July 25th and 26th). I look for something that highlights mushrooms of course, but sometimes that leads to new discoveries, such as this wonderful recipe. It’s originally from Food and Wine Magazine but as usual, I’ve messed with it so much that I think it might be a little bit mine! Leaving some of the corn kernels whole and adding the shitakes adds textural interest that could be lacking in other versions, and the addition of lemon zest and juice brightens everything up. The whole process is a bit messy but totally worth it!
Creamless Creamed Corn with Mushrooms and Lemon
¼ pound shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), sliced
10 ears corn, shucked
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a box grater in a large bowl. On the coarse side, grate 5 ears of the corn all the way to the cob. Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels from the remaining ears of corn. Using the dull side of the knife, scrape the juices from the cobs into the bowl.
In a saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Add the shallots, garlic and shiitake and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high and when the oil sizzles, add the corn and its juices. Cook, stirring, until the corn is thick and shiny, 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 6-8