Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zombie Corn, flavor, and Sungold sauce

The weird gray mass in my corn turns out to be Corn Smut, aka Ustilago maydis aka Huitlacoche (“wee-tlah-KOH-cheh”), and is apparently edible. Now, I’m a pretty adventurous eater, but frankly, I draw the line at Zombie Corn.

Also made an interesting discovery about the Bloody Butcher from Seed Savers Exchange— every husk has 2-3 ears growing in it, unfortunately at wildly different rates, and you can't harvest the oldest without also pulling the youngest, since they share a husk and a stem. So assuming I can keep ahead of the aphids, I’m going to try leaving these and see if I can get some of these multiple husks all to mature.

One of the interesting things about growing different corn varieties is that different types taste differently. The Bon Appetit is as sweet as candy, no joke. Eye poppingly sweet. The Bloody Butcher has a smoky deep flavor, it tastes roasted even when it’s braised. The Country Gentleman has the "corniest’ flavor so far, which is probably why it’s a popular backyard variety.

This is one of the most interesting things about growing your own food. You rediscover variety in places you've been trained not to expect variety. Different tomatoes have not only different shapes, but also different flavors, sometimes subtle but sometimes dramatic, like the three different corns. Eating three different varieties of cherry tomatoes in a row is as different as eating a bagel and then a cookie and then pasta. All the same basic ingredients, but wildly different flavors.

Sungold Pasta Sauce
1 quart mixed cherry tomatoes, primarily golden
1 bell pepper, red or green, seeded and diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
large handful white mushrooms, diced

Blanche the tomatoes and pull off the skins. This is tedious, but worth it. I made this without peeling the tomatoes and found the skins to be tough and distracting in the sauce, although my husband didn't mind them. Set the peeled tomatoes aside.

Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute until the mushrooms have absorbed all the oil. If you want your sauce to have a mushroomy back taste, add about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and saute until the mushrooms release liquid. Add the green peppers and saute until just going soft. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until their structure breaks down. For additional texture and color, throw in some unpeeled small sweet red or black cherry tomatoes.

This sauce will have a golden/pale green color, very lovely and unusual.

Serve over your pasta of choice with grated parmesan or romano cheese and a nice woodsy white.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for looking that up--my corn has the same thing, but I didn't take its photo. I was so excited that my ONE stalk of corn actually made fruit and then so freaked out it had these weird gray lumps, oozing something black that looked at best like compost tea and at worst like the output from any number of unpleasant things, that I hosed it off, it left empty black sections, and I just put it in the compost bin. The second (and final) ear is a lot smaller and maybe doesn't have this.