Before healthy became the goal of the family meal, a home-cooked dinner might include choices that were fried or slathered in cream and butter. The modern cook still offers food with full flavor, but old-fashioned sides, such as creamed corn, are replaced with less caloric renditions that aren’t swimming in a heady cream sauce. If the vintage kitchen’s recipes are tickling your taste buds, try a delicious, thick creamed corn.
If you’ve chosen to indulge in your grandmother’s signature creamed corn recipe, you’ll notice heavy cream and flour or cornstarch on the recipe card. The cream and dry ingredients thicken in the heat to make the cream sauce. By itself, cream thickens when it is heated and stirred continuously, but it’s the addition of flour or cornstarch that creates the thickness desired in a creamed vegetable dish. While either is acceptable, cornstarch doesn’t add as much texture as flour and layers its own flavor into the dish.
A traditional cream sauce is made by creating a roux with flour or cornstarch and fat. Cream, half-and-half or milk are whisked in quickly until a creamy, thick sauce is formed. The sauce can be incorporated or poured over food, adding a richness to the dish. Instead of creating the roux, it’s possible to add corn to a hot pan with butter or oil, and then sprinkle cornstarch or flour on top of the vegetables, stirring afterward to ensure that the kernels are coated. Cream is added afterward and the mixture is stirred until the vegetables are bathed in a creamy sauce.
Fresh corn is the best choice for creamed corn because the milky substance in the cobs adds flavor and thickens the cream sauce. After you’ve carefully sliced the kernels from the cob, scrape the dull edge of the knife down the cob, releasing the milk. Depending on your recipe, you may add the milk to the roux or when the cream or other liquid is added.
Canned or Frozen
Although fresh corn is the optimal choice, it may not always be the most affordable. The best time to buy fresh corn is when it’s at its peak in the summer. If it’s winter and you’re needing the comfort of creamed corn, frozen or canned corn will work in a pinch. Before adding canned corn, drain the liquid thoroughly before incorporating it into a recipe. Thawed frozen corn completely and drain the excess liquid.
If you’re determined to enjoy Grandma's delicious creamed corn but are committed to a healthy lifestyle, choose substitutions that bring down the calorie and fat factors. Replace cream or half-and-half with skim or low-fat milk. The addition of either milk substitute necessitates the addition of flour or cornstarch to thicken the cream sauce. Rather than butter, use margarine. You will sacrifice richness of flavor, but you’ll add to your heart health. If you use fresh corn, the juices from the kernels and the milk from the cob will add a natural creaminess to your dish.
- Epicurious: Creamed Corn
- “The Joy of Cooking”: Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker