A dish for those who like things corny

Entertaining: Mix of spicy fried corn, Vidalias and peppers is a sure hit.

August 08, 1999|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

If my husband were asked to name his favorite summer food, he'd say corn without even pausing to reflect. He is so enamored of this vegetable that I could prepare it every night of the week and he wouldn't complain. He likes simple corn on the cob, corn pudding, fried corn and corn bread baked with fresh corn kernels.

Imagine my delight, then, when several weeks ago my talented friend and culinary assistant, Emily Bell from Columbus, Ohio, sent me a recipe she had devised for Spicy Fried Corn With Vidalia Onions and Red Peppers.

I made it along with roast chicken and green beans one evening for my spouse and me. Although the directions indicated that the dish would serve four, my husband took so many extra helpings that there was none left at the end of the meal. Since then I've prepared this fried corn several times, always to rave reviews.

The colorful combination of sauteed corn kernels, chopped sweet onions and diced red peppers can be prepared several hours in advance and left at cool room temperature; quickly reheat at serving time.

The spicy corn is excellent paired with grilled salmon fillets, barbecued ribs, hamburgers or turkey burgers. The recipe that follows will serve four to five generously unless you have a corn aficionado at the table. Then maybe you should count on only three servings.

Heat butter and olive oil in large, heavy skillet (cast-iron skillet works well) over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add onions and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add corn, red pepper, sugar and salt, and saute until vegetables have browned lightly, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir mixture only occasionally so vegetables will stick to bottom of pan and brown.

In mixing bowl, whisk together cayenne, mustard and half and half, and add to vegetables in pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until half and half has been almost entirely absorbed, about 3 minutes. Taste and add more salt and sugar if needed. (Corn mixture can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover loosely with lid or with foil and leave at cool room temperature. Reheat, stirring.)

To serve, mound corn mixture in serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives.

Note: Since summer corn is quite sweet, you can add sugar to taste in recipe, but do not add more than 1 teaspoon for entire dish.

Variation: For a smoky flavor in addition to spicy flavor in this dish, add 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce when adding half and half.

Spicy Fried Corn, Vidalias and Red Peppers

Serves 4 to 5

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped Vidalia onions

5 cups fresh corn kernels (scraped well from about 8 ears of corn)

1 large sweet red pepper, stem, seeds and membranes removed and pepper cut into 1/4 -inch dice

several dashes sugar (see note)

1 teaspoon salt

scant / teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon country-style mustard with seeds

2/3 cup half and half

2 tablespoons chopped chives

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