Minus a special tool for removing kernels.
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Shuck the corn, rinse with cold water, and rub vigorously with a fine-weave cotton towel to get all the silk off (or at least some of it). Put out a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper on top of a cutting board. Hold the cob in one hand at a slant and use your large chef's knife to cut off the kernels in strips. The paper will help it not go quite everywhere. Break up the kernels with your hands after you're done cutting. It's still going to be messy, but this will really help contain it.
If you still have trouble, try putting out a large glass baking dish, lining that with the paper, and cutting towards that. You have to be careful not to hit your knife on the glass, but this will also help contain the mess.
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
Love the "not quite go everywhere"! Syronai is right: the best tool is a good chef's knife. Think about working outside where the mess can be hosed down. And wear an apron.
Ooooh, and after you've stripped the kernels, smoke the cobs and make a killer stock from them. If you don't have a smoker, don't despair. Make a good hot fire in a charcoal grill. Spread out the coals to an even layer. Toss in some handfuls of your favorite smoking chips ( I like alder or apple), lay your cobs across the rack, shut the lid, then close the top and bottom air vents ALMOST all the way. Smoke the cobs to a good dark brown, but not charred. You'll swoon at the flavor from the stock you'll make. And so will your neighbors because they'll be treated to the scent of your efforts.
I've got 10 cobs the whole deal will go down on the patio.
Oxo makes a "good grips corn stripper" (just google it...amazon and kitchen stores carry it) that has a cutting blade and the kernels go into an enclosed container. I bought one and it does work. The only bad thing is that the container only holds kernels from about one ear of corn so you do have to keep dumping it out, but there is no mess nor kernels all over the kitchen.
I saw this on some cooking show or another - not sure which - invert a small bowl inside a larger bowl and stand the ear on the smaller bowl. As Syronai says, run the chef's knife down the ear to cut off the kernels which will remain in the larger bowl. If you're doing a lot of ears you have to empty the bowl a few times, and some kernels will still fly, but it really helps avoid most of the mess.
I agree with healthierkitchen, I slice the kernals off into a bowl and it is minimally messy. Never tried the small inverted bowl, but I will. I just found the right size and shape that works for me, and I don't have to empty the bowl unless I am doing a large quantity.
Thank you! Headed to the patio now with two bowls, a large knife, kitchen towel and parchment paper.
Enjoy, Summer of Eggplant! Glad you've got better weather than we do. My patio is soaking wet right now!