Corn crops are often associated with states like Nebraska and Iowa, but Florida produces a surprising amount of sweet corn. This is a winter and spring vegetable in the Sunshine State, harvested from March through May. Sweet varieties are the norm here, helping the corn keep longer and withstand the warmer climate.
Here are a few quick tips on picking out the best ear without completely dehusking, which causes the corn to spoil quicker:
- Look for corn with tassels that are brown and sticky. If they are dry or black, the corn has been harvested a while ago.
- Feel the ear—through the husk—for even, plump kernels. If it feels uneven or there are voids, move on to the next.
- Look for bugs around the tassels and along the folds of the husk. Without removing the husk or pulling too far back, lightly loft the leaves and look below. At this point in the season, bugs are always a factor with corn. Inspect and wash carefully before cooking.
Fresh From Florida Recipes
Preparation for corn is endless. While the go-to cob on the grill reigns supreme, there are some other interesting uses, especially with fresh seafood. Here, Fresh From Florida Chef Justin Timineri offers up two sweet corn recipes—one paired with fresh clams, the other as a crispy fritter.
Sweet Corn and Chorizo Sausage Stuffed Florida Clams
- 24-30 medium-sized live clams, rinsed
- 1 cup yellow corn meal
- 1/4 cup jack cheese, shredded
- 1 link chorizo sausage, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- oil for cooking
- sea salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Fill a medium-sized stock pot halfway with water. Place stock pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lightly salt the water in the stock pot. When a boil is reached, add the live clams to the pot. Cook the clams until they just start to open. Drain the clams in a colander; run cold water over them until they are cooled off. Discard any unopened clams. Let clams drain well and place them in the refrigerator until later.
Preheat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the preheated pan. Add the diced onions and chorizo sausage to the pre heated pan. Cook the onions and chorizo until the onions are translucent and the chorizo is golden brown. Add the bell pepper, corn and chili powder to the pan. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Season the ingredients in the pan lightly with salt and pepper. Remove ingredients from heat and add them to a medium-sized mixing bowl. To the mixing bowl add cornmeal, cheese, cilantro, egg, and 1/4 cup of water. Mix ingredients thoroughly; add a little more water if necessary so the stuffing is moist.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove cooked clams from the refrigerator. Open up each shell the rest of the way so they can be stuffed. Place an even amount of stuffing in each shell. Place stuffed shells in a baking dish. Place the baking dish of stuffed clams on the center rack of the oven. Bake clams for 7-12 minutes or until heated throughout. Remove clams from oven and serve immediately.
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Sweet Corn and Ricotta Fritters
- 2 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels removed
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped fine
- 4 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup self-rising unbleached or whole-wheat flour
- olive oil (for shallow pan frying)
- kosher salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
In a medium-sized bowl, combine corn, cilantro, ricotta, eggs, flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a small amount of olive oil to a medium-high preheated sauté pan.
Carefully add spoonfuls of the corn mixture to the hot pan. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Test the first done fritter, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve with low-fat sour cream if desired.
Recipes and images of stuffed clams and fritters courtesy of Chef Justin Timineri and the Florida Department of Consumer Services.