Corn fritters, cakes, and breads—hinging on roasted and ground corn—have been staples of Indigenous American cuisine for centuries. In the generations since, corn fritters also took hold in the American South, where you'll find cornmeal-based hush puppies and fresh corn–filled pancakes. This streamlined version falls into the latter camp—mostly corn kernels, tenuously bound by a tangy, yeasty batter. These are just as happy alongside a summery lunch of lettuces dressed with oil and vinegar, as they are a puddle of warm maple syrup or honey.
If you don’t have a sourdough starter, all you need is flour and water and a little patience. This guide from Sarah Owens is an unintimidating place to start. Before you get fritter-ing, make sure your sourdough starter is active—which is to say, recently fed, lively and bubbly—and passes the float test. (Fill a glass with water and add a tablespoon or so of starter. If it floats, you’re good to go. If it sinks, your starter is hungry and wants to be fed.)
Instead of tossing those stripped, seemingly spent corn cobs, consider this instead: corn stock, which can and should be kept in the freezer, to preserve summer as long as we possibly can. Use any place you would use vegetable stock, as a sweet, subtle, and scrappy alternative.
This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments. —Emma Laperruque
Use a sharp knife to strip the corn kernels from their cobs. Save the cobs for stock (link in the Author Notes) or discard.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add a couple big pinches of salt, and whisk with a fork until smooth. Add the starter and mix until mostly cohesive. Stir in the corn kernels.
Add a hunk of butter to the pan. Once it melts, it should generously lacquer the bottom (just like for making pancakes).
When the butter is foaming, scoop in the batter—figure about 2 tablespoons per fritter, evenly spaced out so you have enough room to flip. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, until tiny bubbles form on top of the fritters and their bottoms are deeply golden brown. Flip and press down if needed to flatten. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until they feel firm-ish and slightly bouncy to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and sprinkle with salt.
Cook the remaining corn fritter batter in the same way if needed. Let cool for a few minutes before digging in—these are too hot straight out of the pan.
Emma is the food editor 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 at @emmalaperruque.