This time of year, Michigan has got my ear…Corn that is.
My love affair with Michigan Sweet Corn, like many Michiganders, goes back to my early childhood growing up in Dearborn and Livonia.
When my parents moved to Livonia in the late 50’s, there were still some “actual” farms, even some horse farms, and cattle. From my neighborhood of new construction, it was only a short walk to “raid” a nearby corn field for a couple of ears or to score a tomato or two.
Ill-gotten corn just seemed to taste sweeter for some reason?
All throughout my Chef career, I’ve fallen in love with Michigan Sweet Corn over and over and probably none greater than the 2 summers I spent in Bay Harbor, Michigan when opening the restaurants Latitude and Knot…just a Bar in the summers of 1996 and 1997.
Bill’s Farm Market, located on Mitchell Road just east of Petoskey was, and still is, as their website proclaims, “A neighborhood farmer’s market, just the way you remembered it”.
My many weekly runs to Bill’s to pick up paper shopping bags stuffed full of Sweet Corn and other vegetables were so memorable that I can still close my eyes and smell the dirt, the aroma of ripe tomatoes and the errr…”local fertilizer”.
My perfectly prepared corn was then, and still is now, picked uber fresh (and if it were practical to set a burner and a pot of water out in the field and bend the ear right off the stalk and into the boiling water I would in a heart-beat).
But rather than cooking in water, I’ve always preferred to leave the corn in its husk, soak in water a few hours, then grill them (still in their husks) on medium grill heat for about 8 to 10 minutes or enough time to steam the kernels within their protective husks until JUST cooked but STILL crisp, crunchy and sweet.
I like to choose corn picked with still a good few inches of stalk on bottom of each ear so that when I peel back the corn’s husk I can wrap it around the stalk and use it as my “handle”.
Our buyer, Joe Santoro, inspects a load of Michigan sweet corn in Eastern Market.
From there, my recipe is simple. I slather it with the BEST butter (my preference is Presidente salted) then a generous grating of FRESHLY ground black pepper and lastly, some coarse sea salt.
When I bite into the PERFECT ear of corn, I want to feel a burst of sweet corn “milk” from each kernel, I want to feel the “sting” of the black pepper’s heat and the crunch of the sea salt which, if “just” coarse enough, will still be undissolved.
Michigan Sweet Corn is at its peak right NOW, do yourself a HUGE favor and stop by Nino’s and enjoy one of Michigan’s true culinary treasures.
If you’re going up north and will be in the Petoskey area, stop by Bill’s Farmer’s Market. Looking for more info? Here are some blogs I’ve written about Michigan Sweet Corn with some DELICIOUS recipes!
Great Recipes for Late-Summer Sweet Corn
Michigan Sweet Corn Recipes
Fall In Love With Michigan Sweet Corn