For me, all corn dishes start with memories of Midwestern nights, of Summerfest in Milwaukee: grilled ears of corn, with the husk pulled down as a handle, dipped in coffee cans of melted butter. Here the textures are paramount, with the corn from the garden accented by a trio of other corn-centric elements: hominy, heirloom popcorn, and corn smut.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 100 grams | ⅔ cup dried nixtamalized corn kernels
- 700 grams | about 3 cups water
- grapeseed oil, for deep-frying
- kosher salt
- 400 grams | 1 ⅔ cups whole milk
- 200 grams | 1 ¼ cups yellow corn kernels
- xanthan gum
- Maldon sea salt
- 225 grams | 1 cup unsalted butter
- 75 grams | ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 100 grams | 3.5 ounces sourdough baguette, cut into 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) slices
- 12 grams | 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt liquid nitrogen
FOR THE CORN NUTS:
- Combine the corn and water in a pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Drain the corn and spread the kernels in a single layer on silicone baking mats. Place the mats in an area with a steady temperature of 100°F to 130°F (38°C to 54°C) for at least 18 hours, until the kernels are completely dry and slightly translucent. (Placing the trays in an oven set to the lowest temperature with the door left open works.)
- Pour the oil to a depth of 4 inches (10 centimeters) into adeep fryer or deep, heavy pot and heat to 375°F (190°C). Add the corn to the hot oil and fry for about 30 seconds, until crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with kosher salt. Let cool, then store in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature. FOR THE CORN MILK:
- Combine the milk and corn in a vacuum bag and seal on high. Using a butchery mallet, pound the kernels until they break apart slightly and begin to release their juice. Refrigerate the bag for 12 hours to infuse the milk.
- Strain the milk through a very fine cloth filter into a container, then weigh the milk. Multiply the weight of the milk by 1 percent, then weigh out that amount of xanthan gum. Transfer the milk to a blender, turn on the blender to the lowest speed, and slowly add the xanthan gum. Continue to blend for 10 seconds more, until the milk thickens. Season the corn milk with Maldon salt, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. FOR THE PUMPKIN SEED BROWN BUTTER:
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally to redistribute the butter solids. Turn down the heat slightly and add the pumpkin seeds, baguette slices, and Maldon salt. Once the butter and the seeds have turned a rich brown, pour the mixture into a few shallow containers, about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in depth, distributing the bread and seeds evenly between the containers. Freeze the butter for at least 3 hours, until completely solid.
- Carefully put the liquid nitrogen into a deep metal container (excessive changes in temperature or agitation of the liquid nitrogen may cause it to become volatile). Using a fine-tooth grater, shave the brown butter into the liquid nitrogen. Pour the liquid nitrogen through a small strainer to remove the shavings and store the shavings in a dry plastic container in the freezer until needed. (To discard the liquid nitrogen, carefully pour it back into its original container.) FOR THE ROASTED CORN PUDDING:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Roast the corn for about 25 minutes, until the husks are dark brown. Let cool slightly, then remove the husks. Using a sharp knife, remove the kernels from 7 ears and set the kernels aside. Remove the kernels from the remaining 3 ears; you should have 370 grams (2 ¼ cups) of kernels. Juice these kernels and measure 250 grams (1 cup) of juice.
- Prepare an ice bath. Add the reserved kernels (from the 7 ears), the corn juice, and the gellan base to a blender and mix on high speed for about 3 minutes, until a smooth puree forms. With the blender on medium speed, slowly add the butter, 1 cube at a time, until all of the butter is incorporated. Strain the puree through a chinois into a bowl, then nest the bowl in the ice bath to cool the puree. Season the cooled puree with vinegar and kosher salt. Transfer to a large squeeze bottle and reserve in the refrigerator until needed. FOR THE HUITLACOCHE PUREE:
- Prepare an ice bath. Combine the huitlacoche and water in a saucepan over low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, until soft. Drain the huitlacoche, transfer to a blender, and mix on high speed for 3 minutes, until a smooth, thick puree forms. Strain the puree through a chinois into a bowl, then nest the bowl in the ice bath to cool the puree. Season the cooled puree with vinegar and kosher salt. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and reserve in the refrigerator until needed. FOR THE ROASTED BABY CORN:
- Prepare a fire in a wood-burning oven. When the fire is at about 600°F (315°C), place the baby corn on the oven grate and roast for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the charred husks and reserve the silks. Slice 3 ears of the corn into thin lengthwise strips. Cut the remaining ears into coins about ¼ inch (6 millimeters) thick. FOR THE POPPED CRIMSON POPCORN:
- Heat a small, shallow rondeau with a lid over high heat. Add half of the oil and immediately follow with half of the corn kernels. Season with a little kosher salt, cover the pan, and then agitate the pan. When the kernels begin to pop, turn down the heat slightly. After 30 seconds have elapsed, transfer the popped corn to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining corn kernels and oil. Let cool, then store in an airtight container with silica gel packets at room temperature. TO SERVE:
- ```````Place a few dollops of the corn pudding and huitlacoche puree on each of 4 long plates. In a small bowl, season the raw corn kernels and the baby corn strips and coins with vinegar, olive oil, and Maldon salt, then arrange them on the plates on and around the pudding and the puree. Scatter the reserved baby corn silks, corn nuts, popcorn, and sweet clover around each plate. Lastly, spoon a small amount of the corn milk on the plates, and scatter the brown butter over the surface.