We are told, again and again: Don’t throw that out. Doesn’t matter what that is—it could become soup. A chicken bone. An onion peel. A cheese rind. Any bits and bobs that you’ve shoved to the side of your plate or cutting board. Just add water and they’ll grow into something else, like a melon, or a chia pet.
I never thought to do this with corn cobs.
I’ve read about corn milk and, for a while, assumed this was resourceful enough. After stripping the kernels, you use your knife to scrape along the naked cob. A milky liquid seeps out, like maple from a tree, especially handy if you’re making creamed corn. Which I never do.
But I love making corn pasta. This combination embraces two of my favorite things: Carbs on carbs. And summer. All the better if they’re together.
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A few weeks ago, I was developing a recipe for elote rigatoni—basically, deconstructed Mexican street corn, plus noodles—and ended up with a mountain of cobs. The thing with recipe development is, you ask yourself so many What if?s that, eventually, it’s hard to tell where one question starts and another begins. One minute you’re thinking about pasta shapes. The next, you’re wondering: What if I boiled these?
So instead of throwing the cobs in the trash, I threw them in a pot, covered with water, and let simmer while I worked. I paid it absolutely zero attention, which is usually just right for broths, and just how I recommend replicating this not-recipe. When the liquid was yellow and reduced, I added some salt and took a slurp.
Hence my resolution: To never again be without it. Make a batch any time you have leftover cobs and store in the freezer, either in containers or in ice cube trays. This way, summer can stay with you all year long.
Here are some ways to put it to good use. Use as much corn broth as you would any other type:
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.