By Christopher Matthews
August is peak corn season in the Hudson Valley. We just had the “butter and sugar” variety from Gill Family Farm the other day, purchased at the Montgomery Place Orchards’ farm stand in Red Hook, NY, and it was fantastic. But beyond starting with field fresh, perfectly ripe corn, which is essential for great corn-on-the-cob, it still has to be cooked (gently) and seasoned, steps that many botch.
Like fish, corn can be easily overcooked.
Thanks to Craig Claiborne, whose boiled corn recipe we stumbled upon some years ago in the New York Times Cookbook, we have a foolproof method for delivering firm, tasty kernels bursting with corn flavor.
Fill a dutch oven or a large pot two-thirds full of fresh cold water, cover and bring to a roiling boil. Do not salt the water. Shuck, silk and wash the corn while waiting for the water to boil. Once the water is bubbling, slip in the ears. Let the water come back to a gentle boil, uncovered, then take off the heat and put on lid. Leave covered for five minutes, but not a second more (and use a timer!). Take out of the water immediately, and let the corn cool on a large plate.
To season, we drizzle the ears with a little olive oil, and add a little sea salt, fresh ground pepper and, for the coup de grace, some freshly chopped basil and tarragon directly from our herb garden. Butter, of course, is the traditional option, but unnecessary in our book.
Corn-on-the-cob (cooked the right way) is the essence of August in the Hudson Valley!