Although creamed corn is available any time of the year out of a can, it doesn’t compare with the clean, sweet flavor of late-summer corn gently simmered with fresh cream. But if you don’t handle the fresh corn and cream correctly, you wind-up with that overcooked, just-out-of-the-can flavor your were trying to avoid.
Many recipes start by boiling the corn on the cob, then cutting the kernels off the cob and mixing them with a cream sauce. This technique, however, loses much of the sweet, delicate corn flavor to the cooking water. I prefer recipes that simmer the corn kernels (which are first cut free from the cobs) directly in the cream. This technique releases their sugary, summery flavor into the sauce, which is where you want it to be.
Simply simmering fresh corn kernels in cream, however, wasn’t enough. It produced a thin, lumpy mixture that lacked the thickened, spoonable texture I desired. Scraping the pulp out of the spent cobs helped a bit, but I wanted the sauce a bit thicker. Flour and cornstarch just made the sauce gummy and overwhelmed the flavor of the corn. I then tried grating a few of the ears, which broke down some of the kernels into smaller pieces. This did the trick. By grating some of the raw kernels off the cob, I was able to release more of the corn’s natural thickener. I found that grating about half of the corn in my recipe thickened the sauce sufficiently.
After making a few batches of this recipe with different types of corn, I realized that the cooking times can differ, depending on the corn’s variety and age. While some kernels cooked perfectly in only 10 minutes, other needed five minutes longer. I also found that as the corn and cream cook and thicken, the heat needs to be adjusted to keep the mixture at a simmer to prevent the bottom from burning.
As for the other ingredients, I tried using half-and-half instead of heavy cream, but my husband missed the luxurious flavor and heft provided by the latter, A little shallot, garlic, and fresh thyme complemented the delicate flavor of the corn, while a pinch of cayenne added a little kick.
You’ll find my favorite Creamed Corn recipe here.