Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fried Corn

We, here in the South, cherish family heirlooms.  We pass down family silver, furniture made by the generations who came before us, quilts hand sewn by our great grandmothers, and cast iron skillets.....we love our cast iron.  The smooth, seasoned surface of a well used cast iron skillet is just as lovely to me as any silver serving piece.  They exemplify the evolution of southern cuisine.  When I look back at the cast iron skillets of my aunts and grandmothers and run my fingers over the worn surface I am suddenly taken back to the hours upon hours of time spent hovering over these simple pans preparing meals for the family.  The more I think about the days gone by, the generations of women who used these very pans, I begin to realize that to me cooking is an art form, not just a necessary part of feeding the family or surviving another day, it is a true art form that has been passed down through generations.

One such recipe that has been passed down through my mother's family is how to put up fried corn.  When the silver queen corn comes in and it's sweet aroma fills the house there is no better smell in the world!  Though a bit of a process the end result is well worth the amount of time it takes to make this southern favorite.  Through the years my mother has learned different ways of putting it up to accommodate any number of kitchen situations.  There is the tried-and-true version which is typically done in a cast iron skillet (though it can be done in a non-stick pas as well) and there is the microwave version that simply blanches the corn so that it can be seasoned and heated through when you are ready to serve it.  Here is our version of putting up corn....

Start with several dozen ears of corn.  For this batch we used 3 dozen ears.  
Shuck and de-silk the corn.  
In order to get all of the silk out of the corn use a dry paper towel to catch the stragglers.  

With a sharp knife, cut off the tips of the kernels into a large bowl. With the dull side of a dinner knife, scrape out all of the milk from each ear of corn.

Once you have gotten every last bit of anything out of each ear of corn and your hand is cramping it is time to mix up the kernels and the milk from the corn.  

Now it is time to break out the ole cast iron skillet (if you listen carefully you will hear little Southern angels singing as you break it out of the cabinet).  

As the sun has the moon, the days have their nights, the cast iron skillet has its own counterpart.....bacon grease!  

Don't be shy here and certainly, under no circumstances try to substitute olive oil for the bacon grease as this (along with the corn itself of course) is where you will get your flavor.  To each pan you are using add a heaping tablespoon of bacon grease. 

Please note that in each type of cooking method we used approximately a dozen ear of corn so that cast iron has one dozen, the non-stick pan has one dozen and our final dozen is being cooked in the microwave.

For the microwave method, simply spoon the corn into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for two minutes, stir, cook another two minutes until the total cooking time is 10 minutes.  Let the corn cook and bag making sure to note that this mixture has not yet been seasoned.  This simply kills any of the bacteria in the corn making it safe to freeze and have later.

Now back to the stove top cookin'!
Once your bacon grease has melted and you have added the corn to the skillet stir it up and make sure it is not too dry (in this case you may need to add a little more bacon grease....no I am not kidding).  You will know if it is too dry by how it sticks to the bottom of the pan.  You want to keep scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure the corn isn't burning or sticking too badly.

Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking over medium high heat.

For each dozen ears of corn add approximately 1/2 cup of milk.  Stir to combine.

Keep stirring the corn until it begins to change color and brown bits start to form on the bottom.  This is when it is done!!!  Does this not look like a little bit of heaven???

Let the corn cool before bagging otherwise you will have a hot mess on your hands!

Once the corn has cooled store it in freezer bags (make sure you don't go cheap on these as it is what keeps the corn so fresh).  Make sure to label each bag before your fill them up as it can be a little difficult later.  

From 3 dozen ears of corn we were able to put up 11 freezer bags of corn, each of which contain 2 healthy servings of fried corn!There is absolutely nothing better than getting into the dead of winter and having a craving for that sweet summer corn and knowing it is just a few steps away in the freezer!
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1 comment:

  1. Every dish is better with bacon grease!! I need to find a container like the one you have.