Fresh Supersweet Corn — a Florida Favorite

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When most parts of the country try to eat locally this time of year, the fresh produce available can be very limited.  In Florida, however, locavores have the pleasure of long growing seasons that supply us with great tasting fresh produce throughout the year. Right now, sweet corn is at the peak of its season.  Surprising to many Floridians, the state grows more sweet corn than any other state in the Union, and Palm Beach County leads the way.

For northerners, sweet corn used to be a sign of summer, but in Florida, it has always been a crop for the fall, winter and spring.  Once winter passes, the harvest moves from Homestead to the region just south of Lake Okeechobee.  Despite the freezes in January and February that delayed many harvests, normal volumes are starting to return and growers will be shipping their bountiful harvest throughout Florida as well as states in the East and Midwest.

Corn on the cob is a natural on the grill, but its versatility is sometimes overlooked.  Sweet corn is a perfect accompaniment to fresh seafood, like in Tampa-area chef Chris Ponte’s Grilled Supersweet Corn and Shrimp Risotto, which he serves with Florida shrimp.  Miami’s Michelle Bernstein likes to cook Florida corn at the restaurant and at home, where she came up with a crowd pleasing Corn on the Cob “Lollypops” that can’t miss.

In Florida, supersweet varieties reign.  In addition to being harvested with more natural sugars than older varieties, supersweet corn stays sweet longer.  This gives us more days to enjoy the sweet, fresh flavor of corn on the cob, a week or more after harvest.  To keep it at its freshest and sweetest, supersweet corn should be refrigerated until ready to use.

Sweet corn is rich in vitamin C, thiamin and folate, and is one vegetable enjoyed by kids and grownups alike.  It cooks quickly, no matter if it is steamed, grilled or microwaved, so adding it to any meal is a since.  For tips on handling and cooking corn, along with recipe ideas and nutrition information, visit www.freshsupersweetcorn.com.


Grilled Supersweet Corn And Shrimp Risotto

Chef Chris Ponte, Café Ponte, Clearwater, FL

Ingredients

  • 5 ears fresh supersweet corn, preferably in husks
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-½ pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 20 large)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange rind
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 18 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup butter, divided
  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1 leek (white part only), quartered lengthwise and sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 3 cups Arborio or short-grain rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallion (green onion)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon sliced chives

Preheat grill or oven to 375ºF. Grill or roast corn in the husk or wrapped in aluminum foil for 20 minutes; set aside to cool.  Cut kernels from 3 of the ears (makes about 2-¼ cups).  Cut remaining 2 ears crosswise in 2-inch pieces; reserve.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over high heat, bring broth to a boil; reduce heat to low to keep broth warm.  In a bowl, toss shrimp with rind, salt and pepper.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Add shrimp; cook and stir just until pink, about 3 minutes; remove to a bowl and reserve.  In the same saucepan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Add onion and leek; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir until combined and rice is hot. Add wine; cook and stir until the wine has almost evaporated, about 4 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the warm broth. Cook, stirring continuously, gradually adding additional broth as it’s absorbed until all the broth has been incorporated and the rice is tender and creamy, about 15 minutes. If additional liquid is needed, add 2 tablespoons of water at a time until creamy. When the risotto has finished cooking, stir in the corn kernels, shrimp and scallions; cook just until reheated. Divide risotto among six dinner plates.  Garnish with reserved corn sections, basil and chives. 

YIELD:  6 portions (about 12 cups)


Corn On The Cob “Lollypops”

Chef Michelle Bernstein, Michy’s, Miami

Ingredients

  • 4 ears fresh supersweet corn (each cut into thirds)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 18 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 18 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 18 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 lollypop sticks

With the tip of a knife poke a hole in one end of each piece of corn. Cook the corn in boiling salted water 2 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, salt, red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl. Pour the melted butter into a pie plate. Drain the corn well. Roll each piece in the butter, insert a stick into the end and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture.

YIELD: 12 servings

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