pan-grilled corn with chile (and optional tomatoes)

I love corn on the cob – especially this time of year, straight from our Tuesday Farmers’ Market. This is almost as easy as boiling or grilling the ears, but tastes completely different. Last time we made it, I used frozen Hatch Green Chiles that I had flown back with from New Mexico. This time, we had poblano chiles at the Farmers’ Market, so we decided to try those.

Also, the first time, we made it without tomatoes, and we loved it. The tomatoes (yes, also at the Farmers’ Market) looked so good, that we are trying this variation.

When I made this on a (well-seasoned) cast iron skillet, I decided to stop adding oil when it probably needed it, so I had to stop cooking it prior to browning or it would have stuck to the pan. As much as the non-stick skillet scares me, I’m advocating its use in this recipe if you want to keep the oil content low.

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Serves 4.

6 ears fresh corn, shucked
1 tb neutral oil, like grapeseed, corn, or canola
1 tsp minced fresh chile, or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
1 tsp minced garlic or 1 tb minced shallot or onion
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
lime wedges (optional)

1. Use a knife to strip the kernels from the corn. It’s easiest if you stand the corn up in a shallow bowl and just cut down the length of each ear as many times as is necessary; you’ll quickly get the hang of it.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the corn, chile, and garlic; let sit for a moment. As the corn browns, shake the pan to distribute the corn so that each kernel is deeply browned on at least one surface.

3. Remove from the heat, then add salt and pepper to taste. Just before you serve it, stir in the cilantro and squeeze a little lime juice over the top.

Variation: pan-grilled corn with chile and tomatoes
– This gets stewier – In step 2, cook the corn and chile until brown, omitting the garlic. Once the corn browns, add 2 more tb oil and 1 chopped large onion; cook until the onion softens, 5-10 minutes. Add 2 cups chopped tomato (preferably, way preferably, fresh and good, but canned will do in a pinch) and cook, stirring occasionally until the tomato breaks down. Proceed to step 3.

Post-cooking note: these are two entirely different dishes. The first is almost a salad, while the second is really a stew. Both are delicious, but serve very different cravings!

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