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I brought Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors with me to Lake George for the Fourth of July weekend, and though I hadn’t intended to do much cooking off the grill, I couldn’t resist attempting the corn fritters with aged Cheddar, which foremost sounded delicious—Madison describes them as “all corn, not just a few kernels suspended in batter”—but also like something my minimally equipped cottage kitchen could handle.
Both proved true, the biggest challenge being not the dull chef’s knife, not the absence of a grater, not the wonky burner, not the slippery nonstick skillet, but the nature of the fritters themselves—which like many a fritter, require a trial-and-error process to get right. Here, the variables for the batter include eggs, flour, and the corn milk extracted by running the back of a knife down the cob against partially removed kernels. The amount of eggs and flour required depends on the juiciness of the kernels, and unlike fritter batters that call for partially puréed ingredients, which hold together with a squeeze of a hand, this one doesn’t. Making a test fritter is essential for assessing the consistency.
A test fritter, moreover, enables you to adjust the seasonings, which are minimal: scallions, herbs, and cheese. Madison likes using an aged Cheddar but recommends a number of others, including goat, feta, and Gouda. I was tempted to use something more exotic than Cheddar, but I’m so glad I didn’t: Not only does the sharp Cheddar complement the sweet corn so nicely, but it browns beautifully, too, creating a crisp, golden exterior.
Once the batter is tasting and behaving to your liking, frying up these fritters takes no time. With a simple green salad or a few sliced tomatoes and some good bread, these fritters can be a meal. And while I didn’t miss that slippery nonstick skillet when I got home, it was a dream to clean—the ideal ending to a summer meal, and a nice reminder that cooking this time of year is not about the gadgetry.
- 2 to 4 eggs
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or more to taste
- 1 cup grated (or small diced) sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
- 6 ears of corn, shucked
- 1/3 to 1 cups all-purpose flour
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Olive oil or neutral oil for frying
What's your ideal, drop-dead-simple summer meal? Tell us in the comments.