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Adding Fresh Corn to Cornbread

by Elizabeth Skipper | August 11th, 2015 | Ask the Chef
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cornbread (400x400)With local corn available for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to serve it often. I want to try adding some to cornbread. If I do this, should I cook the corn before adding it to the batter, or should I add raw corn?

Hmm, I’ve always added cooked or thawed frozen corn to my cornbread, so I had to think about this. My first reaction was yes, you should cook it (freezing changes the texture of corn although of course frozen corn isn’t cooked.) It seems as though it wouldn’t have time to cook through during baking.

Not having the time to experiment myself, I did the next best thing and consulted a couple of reputable cookbooks. James McNair, in his Corn Cookbook, has a recipe for cornbread with thirteen variations and fourteen additions to the basic recipe! Double-corn cornbread calls for the addition of ¾ cup fresh, drained canned, or thawed frozen corn kernels. So there was one author saying these are all interchangeable.

Betty Fussell, in Crazy for Corn, writes that, “With cornmeal it is better to add than to subtract because the meal will bind and blend the most diverse flavorings and ingredients.” This comment prefaces a recipe for Hot and Smoky Peppered Corn Bread which includes fresh corn kernels, roasted red bell peppers, ground chipotle, roasted onion, and raisins. A second respected cookbook author calling for uncooked corn in cornbread is enough to convince me it will work just fine. (And with corn in season, this sounds like an intriguing recipe to try.)

As an aside, have you ever eaten raw corn? It’s delicious. It seems no one I’ve suggested it to has, and they find the idea odd. However, if I can convince them to try a nibble, they wonder why they’ve never heard of it. Knowing that the longer you cook corn, the tougher and starchier it gets, it follows that raw corn will have the effect of slightly sweetening cornbread. So use what you have; and if it’s raw corn, save yourself the extra work of precooking it.

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