Had your fill of sweet corn? Combine it in fillings

It wouldn’t be summer without sweet corn and, once we’ve had our fill of munching it off the cob, recipes for the season’s remainder.

Longtime columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez acknowledged as much in this week’s A la Carte. Her recipe for corn vinaigrette, in particular, is one I plan to try with ears of corn that just don’t make the cut for on-the-cob presentation.

For the first time since I started gardening with my mother-in-law about a decade ago, we’re growing corn. She previously said the crop took too much space, too much water and feeds too heavily on the soil. And besides, 7 Oaks Farm is fairly close.

But over the years, she hankered for a variety that she couldn’t purchase locally. So four tidy rows of corn occupy one end of our garden for this year, at least.

Corn, of course, doesn’t produce that many edible parts compared with the inedible ones. So we’ve contented ourselves with an ear here and there, usually cut off the cob to augment taco filling, succotash and last night’s creamy polenta. We’ll probably harvest enough at once in the next few weeks for one indulgent side dish of grilled corn on the cob.

Until then, and afterward, I’ll keep combining corn with the rest of what’s in the garden. This empanada recipe, if scaled back, would fill the bill nicely. Elotes, mentioned in a previous post, is popular Mexican street food. If you’re corn-rich, these also would be handy stashed away in the freezer.

Tribune News Service photo

Elotes-Inspired Empanada Filling

1 tablespoon butter

1 leek, dark-green leaves trimmed and discarded, white and light-green parts chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 poblano peppers, seeded and divided

2 serrano peppers, seeded and divided

4 ears of corn, grilled, kernels cut from cobs

1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in small dice

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup vegetable stock

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted; add the leek and garlic. Cook until translucent. Cut 1 each of the poblano and serrano peppers into small dice. Add them to skillet, along with the corn, zucchini, bell pepper, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until fragrant.

In a separate pan, over medium heat, combine the cream and stock. Chop remaining 2 pobalano peppers and 1 serrano pepper add to pan; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until cream reduces by one-quarter. Stir well. Add to corn mixture. Cook until heated through; serve as is, or cool and use as an empanada filling. Leftovers make a great salad or side dish.

Makes 4 side-dish servings or enough filling for 32 empanadas.

From Tania Merlos, owner of Tomate Fresh Kitchen in Evanston.


Empanada Dough

3 cups flour, plus extra for rolling

1/3 cup lard or 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon salt

About 3/4 cup very warm tap water

Pour the flour into a large bowl. Work in the fat with your fingers until homogenous. Dissolve the salt in the hot water; work it into flour mixture, creating a medium-stiff dough. Knead just enough to bring dough together.

Divide dough into 16 portions, roll each into a ball, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a ball of dough into a 5-inch-diameter circle. Lightly brush perimeter with water. Add about 3 tablespoons of filling on 1 side. Fold uncovered side over filling, expelling as much air as possible; press edges together. Place empanada on a baking sheet. Seal edges together with tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake in a 400-degree oven, for 15 to 20 minutes. Or, fry in 350-degree oil until deep golden, for about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Makes enough for 16 empanadas.

Adapted by Tribune News Service from chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless’ empanadas de picadillo recipe.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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