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Sweet Corn, Bacon, Basil and Chili

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The same ingredients. Two different recipes.


This Recipe Inside Out was inspired by an impromptu fried corn dish I made one night last week to go with simple roast chicken legs and a tomato and cucumber salad. We'd been eating boatloads of corn on the cob from the greenmarket with butter, salt and pepper, so I thought it was time to shake things up a bit. The fried corn, which involved bacon, basil and red chili flakes, went over so well that it occurred to me that I might have success using the same flavors to make a cold corn soup. And, what do you know: it worked!

Fried Corn with Bacon, Basil and Chili

Serves 6

  • 6 ears corn
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • salt and pepper
  • red chili flakes
  • 8 basil leaves, chiffonaded
1. Using a sharp knife, remove the corn kernels from the cobs and discard the cobs. You should have about 6 cups of corn kernels.

2. Put the bacon in a large skillet with high sides over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy. Add the olive oil and the onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the corn kernels to the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Stirring frequently, cook the corn until it is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn down the heat, add chili flakes to taste and the basil and stir through. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately, before the corn overcooks and loses its crunch.


Cold Corn Soup with Basil-Chili Oil

Serves 8 as a starter

  • 6 large ears corn
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch red chili flakes
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. (You should have about 6 cups of corn kernels.) Put the corn cobs in a large saucepan and cover them with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

2. In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it has rendered most of its fat and is crispy. Add the onion, a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels, stir through and cook for another minute.

3. Carefully strain the corn cob cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and add 6 cups to the corn mixture, reserving the rest. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes so that the flavors have a chance to meld. (Do not overcook -- the kernels should still have a bit of a bite.)

4. Meanwhile, to make the basil-chili oil, blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. (This is a bit of a pain, but if you don't do it, your "basil-chili oil" will end up looking like gray sludge.) Remove and dry thoroughly. Combine the basil leaves, olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and the chili flakes in a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside until ready to use it will be better after an hour or two.

5. Starting with a clean blender and working in small batches so you don't burn yourself, purée about 3/4 of the corn soup until smooth. Combine with the remaining soup, taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and refrigerate until icy cold (you may also eat it hot if you prefer). Serve the soup in individual bowls with a generous drizzle of the basil chili-oil.
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Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Vegetable, Weeknight Cooking