This summer is a beaut. The weather is warm and the corn has been coming in like gangbusters.
The first corn of the season tastes like a miracle. The earthy, grassy aroma of a just-stripped ear reminds us that nature not only renews itself, it frolics.
The only way to eat corn in the early going, of course, is lightly steamed, heavily buttered and sprinkled with salt. But we're deep into the corn season now, and you're probably ready for fresh corn fritters with grilled shrimp and dollops of chipotle-spiked chevre.
The dish is to die for, and surprisingly easy to make.
But before you get to the recipe, a word or two about buying corn. It must be fresh, it must be local, and it must be cold. Some supermarkets, even in the summer, sell corn grown in Timbuktu. Ask the produce clerk for its pedigree.
Buy corn in the husks, and check out the stem end. On a fresh ear, the cut end will be a pale, damp green. The stem of a day-old ear is white and chalky. By day three, it has started to turn brown.
Some stores stack corn in nonrefrigerated bins, which ruins the flavor. The shelf life of corn is short - the sugar quickly turns to starch at room temperature. So either buy at the farm or buy chilled corn only.
Many people seriously overcook corn. For the best flavor, it should be boiled no more than two to five minutes. The exact cooking time will depend on how fresh the corn is.
Microwaving is a great way to cook corn on the cob. Simply run the ears - still in the husk - under the faucet to moisten, and microwave on high power for three to four minutes for two ears, or five to seven minutes for four ears.
If you have time when making this recipe, cook the shrimp on a grill for a smoky flavor. If you're pressed for time, cook the peeled shrimp in a skillet barely glossed with oil. Even large shrimp cook in just a minute or two.
The dish has a Southwestern flavor, thanks to the cumin and the chipotle peppers. The flavor of the fresh kernels comes through loud and clear, though. The corn, after all, is the star.
Fresh Corn Fritters With Grilled Shrimp and Chipotle Chevre
Serves 4 as an appetizer
4 ounces chevre (French-style goat cheese), softened
1/2 of a canned chipotle pepper, minced
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk
3 ears of corn (about 2 cups kernels)
2 egg whites
8 large raw shrimp, peeled
In a small bowl, combine cheese and chipotle pepper and mix well; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, cayenne and cumin; stir well. Add 2 teaspoons oil, egg yolk and milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Peel corn and place an ear on end in a bowl. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob. Repeat with remaining ears. You should have about 2 cups kernels. Stir the kernels into the batter.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until RTC stiff. Fold gently but thoroughly into the corn batter.
Heat about 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. For each fritter, drop two rounded tablespoons of batter into skillet, spreading the mixture into a 3-inch disk with the spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
Grill the shrimp over medium-hot coals, or cook in the fritter skillet just until no longer translucent.
To assemble the dish, place two overlapping fritters on each of four salad plates. Place a dollop of the goat cheese mixture in the center, and garnish each plate with two shrimp.
Pub Date: 8/19/98