August 13, 2015

So there.

There are three things that [I feel] New England does better than anyone else. Football, strawberries and corn. Actually, it’s a much longer list but for the purposes of getting to the point of this post, I will stick with three.

Here’s the thing. You can hate our politics, abhor our plethora of higher education liberal think bubbles, loathe our contempt for neighborhood gatherings and shake your head at our utter lack of Olympic spirit. But let’s face it, when it comes to our four [count em’] Superbowl Championships the haters will hate [and we’ll shout scientific proof, lack of due process, and the fact that Tom Brady is a God and The Organization is corrupt in response*] and still we will have the best damn football team in the league and the most succulent strawberries and corn in the country.  So there.

Growing up in Western Massachusetts surrounded by cornfields and cows meant that you learned the rules of corn buying at a young age: You do not buy corn if it is not in season. You do not buy corn in the grocery store. You do not buy corn that has not been picked that morning. And for the love of all things delicious, you do not shuck your corn at the farm stand. Tom and I walk through the farmer’s markets in Boston shaking our heads in confusion as we watch hoards of people crowding the produce tents so that they can shuck their corn there. This practice is baffling.

If you follow my country bumpkin “rules of corn” you will understand how special and fleeting corn season is. So as these summer days of August roll steadily towards fall, I urge you to eat corn every day. Steam it; grill it; salsa it; soup it. Or fry it into fritters and top it with a poached egg, freshly laid by your backyard chickens.

Corn fritters 
Recipe adapted by Jacques Pepin’s 'Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food'

Before I share this recipe let’s take a minute and talk about Nonna growing corn in her garden. In Detroit. Seriously? I get funny looks when people discover I have a chicken coop seven miles outside of downtown Boston. Personally, I think having your very own, successful backyard corn crop in Detroit is a greater feat by far. She could only plant enough for one harvest and it would all come in at once, giving she and my Papa yet another excuse to throw a bocce party. Not being New Englanders, they apparently enjoyed socializing with their fellow neighbors.

Makes 12 fritters

4 TBSP flour
3 TBSP cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup ice-cold water
4 large ears corn, husked and kernels cut off
6 TBSP grape seed oil

Mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Add the egg and 1⁄4 cup of the water and whisk until smooth. Add more of the water, until you achieve a consistency slightly thicker than pancake batter and then mix in the corn.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet until hot. Drop a generous tablespoon of batter into the skillet for each fritter (I fry 4-5 fritters at the same time in a 12” frying pan) and cook over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to remove any excess oil and repeat with the remaining batter and oil. Sprinkle fritters with kosher salt and serve immediately.

*Special thanks to my brother, @JKostecki for providing the appropriate articles in support of our beloved New England Patriots.

PS- You could certainly disagree with everything I've just said. In which case, I am the honey badger.