Author Notes: We had an abundance of corn on the cob land on us last week, more than we could possibly use in the near future. So we looked to the distant future when winter will roll around again, and how pleasurable it is to be able to pull a bag of summer from the freezer.
We shucked, cleaned, and grilled our ears. Next, we stripped them and froze many bags of kernels. Then we put the naked cobs back on the grill and roasted them to a deep golden color. Finally, into the stock pot they went along with some onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. It simmered all day long. The next time you find yourself with a dozen or so ears of fresh corn, I hope you'll try this sweet, deeply flavored take on vegetable (and vegan) stock. Once you have it, you can go in many directions with it - soups, vegetable stews, beans, beans, and did I mention beans?
Another excellent path is to smoke the cobs after they've been stripped and turn them into a smoky corn stock. Now THAT you'll practically want to sit right down and sip all by its self.
One important step at the end is to have a fine-mesh sieve to hand for the second straining (the first is through a colander to remove the large stuff). The second straining removes fine particles and most important, any lingering silk, which tends to resemble almost exactly, hair. Are your with me here? - boulangere
Makes 2 quarts
- 12 ears corn on the cob
- Canola or grapeseed oil
- 4 onions, stem end removed, quartered
- 6 carrots, peeled, 1" chunks
- 6 stalks celery, trimmed, washed, 1" chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 gallon cold water
- Husk and wash the ears of corn to remove as much silk as possible. Dip your palms into the oil of choice and rub each ear of corn with it. Place them on a grill with a medium fire or flame. Turn as each facet roasts to a rich golden color. When finished, stand each ear on end and use a chef's knife to strip the kernels. Yes, some of them will fly around and even end up on the floor. Call the dog. Or get a dog.
- Once all ears have been stripped, again oil them with your hands and return them to the grill. Roast each just as before, letting all sides attain a rich golden color.
- When done, add to a stockpot large enough to hold them, plus the other vegetables (a basic mirepoix) and a gallon of cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the lid so that the water can slowly cook off, and reduce the heat to an active simmer. After two or 3 hours, begin tasting the stock periodically. It will be done when its flavor is both sweet and deeply complex, with the watery aspect of taste gone. The liquid will be reduced by about half.
- Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for a half hour to an hour so it's all easier to handle. Set a large bowl in the sink and set a colander in it. Pull corncobs out of the pot with tongs and set them in the colander - if you pour them out, they clatter about and it's all just a bit much. Pour the rest of the contents into the colander. Lift it out of the bowl and allow to drain. Don't press on the cooked vegetables, or your stock will tend to be cloudy; just let it finish dripping for a minute or so. Discard the vegetables, or feed them to the chickens, or compost them.
- You should have about 2 quarts of headily fragrant stock remaining. Get out whatever containers you want to use to freeze the stock. I keep half-gallon heavy cream jugs to use for this. Set a funnel in it if necessary, then set or hold a fine-mesh sieve in the opening. Scoop up stock with a measuring cup and pour through the sieve for the final straining. If you plan to freeze your stock, only fill the container about 3/4 full. Cool before refrigerating or freezing by leaving the lid off and setting in a sink full of ice water. When stock feels cool to the touch, about 70 degrees, it's ready to get colder.