As much as everyone loves corn on the cob, taking the time to scrape the kernels off the ear turns this summer staple into a luxurious side dish. The sweet kernels turn sweeter still when you sauté them in a little butter; a handful of fresh basil tossed in at the end makes this the quintessential summer side.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onions (scallions), white and light-green parts
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Kosher or sea salt
- 3½ cups fresh corn kernels (from 7 to 8 medium ears), plus any corn “milk”*
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- Freshly ground black pepper
- *To cut the kernels from an ear of corn, stand a shucked ear of corn, tip end up, firmly on a cutting board (or inside a shallow bowl if using a smaller cutting board). Using a sharp knife and a sawing motion, slice the kernels from the ear, removing a few rows at a time. Be careful not to include the fibrous base of the kernels or cut into the woody core. Once you’ve removed all the kernels, use the back of the knife to scrape the ear and extract a few teaspoons of corn “milk”.
Heat half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions, the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about three minutes.
Add the remaining butter and the corn along with any corn “milk”. Season with a good pinch of salt, and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the corn is tender and beginning to caramelize, about 4 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the water and stir to scrape up the caramelized corn sugars from the bottom of the pan. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and plenty of black pepper. Taste for salt. Serve warm.