Add a touch of Southern hospitality to this summer meal
We're in the middle of the best season for eating with our hands! Just think about it. Whether its burgers, hot dogs, ribs, fried chicken, sweet corn, ice cream cones or watermelon, summer often seems like the time of year dedicated to doing away with utensils.
Sweet corn may be my favorite food to eat with my hands. I'm always on the lookout for wonderful recipes to enjoy the season's bounty of those ears of plump yellow or white kernels. It's a perfect summer food; the juicy kernels bursting with sweetness that somehow miraculously capture the warm sunshine.
I love to boil, steam or barbecue whole ears of corn and serve them with butter that I've seasoned with fresh herbs, spices, chilies, garlic or citrus zest. Or I'll grill whole ears and then slice the kernels from the cob and toss them with chunks of other grilled vegetables, pieces of fresh lettuces, and a lively vinaigrette to make a wonderful summer salad.
But as someone who occasionally loves crispy fried foods, I'm also a big fan golden brown corn fritters served in the American South. And I know that many other people are, too, considering the frequent requests my catering team receives at this time of year to include our version of the golden-brown morsels at parties we're asked to cater.
So I'm happy to share our own recipe for summer sweet corn fritters. It starts, of course, with cutting the kernels off an ear of fresh corn, for which the recipe gives you careful instructions. Then you make a quick batter using easy-to-find ingredients. The most unusual of these -- though still widely available -- is finely ground polenta. It is used to make the cornmeal mush of northern Italian kitchens, which I prefer to the usual cornmeal because of its rich, sweet flavor and the wonderfully tender texture it provides to the interior of each fritter.
Prepare the fritters as an hors d'oeuvre before a summer meal or as an accompaniment to the main course, whether it's something cooked on the grill or indoors. Once you're familiar with the recipe, feel free to start varying it, adding minced fresh chilies or your favorite herbs or spices to the batter; or even a little crumbled crispy bacon or minced smoked ham.
However you may vary the recipe, there's one more thing that really makes it ideal for summer. Once the fritters have cooled just a little so you can pick them up gingerly, they're perfect for eating by hand.
SUMMER SWEET CORN FRITTERS
Makes about 4 dozen
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying