Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Corn Stories-- Poblano Stuffed Corn





Summer is here along with its mouthwatering bounty. I see tomatoes, beans, radishes and bushels of corn abound at farmers markets, roadside stands and even grocery stores. Corn is that quintessential summer veggie you buy in multitudes. The possibilities are endless. It's corn in soup, in stir frys and  salsas. Just shucked corn, dunked in boiling water for a few minutes, slathered with butter and salt, gives me a taste of summer in my mouth! Then again slow-roasted on the grill, with a lime, chile and salt rub, has the smokiness of the grill and that spicy, juicy pop of corn. You see where I'm going? Endless possibilities!

That slowly grilled corn reminds me of childhood treats we ate by the seaside. The bhuttawala or corn seller, sits with a portable, teeny, coal fired grill. As he twists and twirls corn cobs, fanning the flames, sparks flying around him. Imagine a dark, stormy sky. The promenade by the ocean, periodically splattered by the monsoon-churned ocean. The bhuttawala, hunched under his black umbrella. Cars pulling up, handing over rupee notes in exchange for roasted corn cobs. The delicious aroma of coal roasted food in small cars. The memory is overwhelming, a sensory walk through my childhood. For so many of us who grew up in India, the monsoon is a season filled with rainy days, puddles of brown muck to wade through and squelchy shoes. And yet we always find that silver lining. Corn was mainly available in the monsoon months. I'm talking about the days when crops were grown by season. These days you can buy most vegetable throughout the year. Though I think corn tastes best in summer.

I find plenty of fresh corn at the farmers market. Most of the ears have their outer layers pulled away. The age old test to find a tender cob by piercing a corn kernel bothers me. Most corn grown in the United States is so tender. Well if it isn't, once you dunk it in a vat of hot water it will cook for sure! I don't bother with a kernel test. Fresh green husks and a lively brown tassel is cause enough for me to pile them in my shopping basket. I spy some shiny poblanos too. The mind whirls between vegetables. In go the chiles. Corn and poblanos. Like I said, endless possibilities.



Poblano Chiles stuffed with Corn
Makes 12 halves


6 Poblano chiles
2 teaspoons Olive oil
2 cloves of  Garlic
3 ears of Corn
3 stalks of Scallions
1/2 cup cooked Rice
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup Cilantro
Monterey Jack cheese, either grated or in slices.


Wash and dry  poblanos. Cut them in half, lengthwise and remove seeds and inner white pith. 

Line a sheet pan with foil and place poblanos on the pan.


Shuck corn. Remove all the tassels. Holding the corn vertically on a plate, take a sharp knife and cut downwards to remove kernels. Do this with all the cobs. 

Trim and slice the scallions into thin rounds.

Peel and finely dice garlic cloves.

Roughly chop cilantro.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan.

When it shimmers add garlic and let it color for 30 seconds.

Add in the corn and sauté for 5 minutes. 

Mix in scallions, rice, cumin powder, salt and cilantro. Mix well so the spices are well distributed.



After a few minutes take the corn mixture off the flame and cool slightly.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mound the corn in the poblano halves. Divide the mixture between the halves. Press down firmly.


Top each poblano half with Monterey Jack cheese.


Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.


NOTES

You could make these ahead of time and reheat them for 5 to 7 minutes in a hot oven or even the microwave.

Be careful. Sometimes poblanos can pack a spicy punch. It's a lucky dip!

If you do not have cooked rice on hand, cooked potatoes are a handy substitute.




Today we have a southwestern meal. It's tortilla soup, followed by a roasted pork tenderloin. The corn stuffed chiles make an excellent side. Some of our taste buds get many a zing from the poblanos. The corn retains a firm crunch too. Next time it's roasted corn salsa. And it's only June!