All I can say is, if you’ve never made this with freshly shucked corn, you may pass out with pleasure. The cornstarch, which will thicken the mixture and make it more like the canned creamed corn some of us grew up with, is entirely optional. This recipe will get you started on some ideas for additions, though the possibilities are endless. Shrimp, chunks of firm fish, mussels, shucked oysters, and bits of smoked salmon are all surprisingly good. Add them as you would the clams in the last variation.
6 ears fresh corn or 3 cups frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ to 2 cups cream or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cayenne, to taste (optional)
Sugar, if necessary
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Shuck the corn and strip the kernels from it into a bowl to save the liquid. Put the butter in a skillet or broad saucepan over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the corn and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add 1 ½ cups cream and bring to a gentle simmer; add a good pinch of salt, some pepper, and a pinch of cayenne if you like. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the corn is tender.
2. Taste and add a little sugar if you like. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick, another few minutes, adding a little more cream if necessary. If you’d like it thicker, combine the cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water and stir it into the corn; the mixture will thicken almost immediately. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.
Creamed Corn with Onion
Before adding the corn to the butter, cook about ½ cup chopped onion, stirring frequently, until quite tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Creamed Corn with Cheese
Instead of cornstarch, thicken with about a cup of grated semihard cheese, like cheddar. If you like, finish this with a sprinkling of Parmesan and run under the broiler for a minute or two.
Creamed Corn with Pesto
Stir in 3 tablespoons pesto just before serving.
Creamed Corn with Clams
In Step 1, when you add the corn, stir in a pound or so of well-scrubbed clams in the shell. Cover the pan and cook as directed, until the clams open and the corn gets tender, about 10 minutes. Proceed with recipe.