The milk, the sweet, they hide inside.
So after you tease apart the tassels and unfurl the husks, depilate the silks and crack off the stems, drop those ears in a full-on, rumbling, leaping boil. Three minutes, no more. Use some tongs to get them out, and work in batches. Onto a rack they go, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Keep going if you want, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Twelve's good, twelve's enough.
While your ears cool, read a book. Just pick up a book and read it. After about 10 pages, your corn will be cool enough to handle.
Prop a cob at a jaunty angle, then use a sturdy knife to sweep down the sides so the kernels fall off in clumps and chunks. Keep going, sweep, sweep, sweep. Gold will mound before you.
You'll be tired by ear five, or six, but save your complaining for someone else because honestly? I don't want to hear about it. Just plow ahead, go forth, and think of how lucky you are even to have corn this good. You thank that corn and you move on.
Now. Take a cutting board, and your heaviest knife, and set the knife blade atop each spent cob and carefully leverage your weight until the cob snaps in two. Sawing won't help much here, so use your body. Cut each cob at least in half, or, if you're brave, in thirds.
Throw your cobettes in a large pot and add fresh, cold water to cover by an inch or two. (I dumped my original cooking water because I didn't decide to make cobby stock until later in the day. It's up to you if you want to experiment with using the still warm cooking water. You may need to pour some out.)
Crank the flame, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and let those cobs bubble, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes while you return to your book. Peek at the pot now and again, and if the water dips dangerously low, add a touch more. A little evaporation's normal, even good.
When time's up, you've got stock. (Discard the cobs.)
Now you're ready to make corn cob soup.
And look at that.
You've read a book.
Recipe for Corn Cob Soup
The base of this soup comes from a stock of spent corn cobs. I'm in no way the first person to come up with this idea, and in fact, I discovered last night while catching up on my Sunday New York Times that Mark Bittman used this technique in several corn soup recipes in the magazine this past weekend. Note to self: Don't wait two weeks before posting a recipe because you'll look like you're copying Mark Bittman.
Makes 6 cups
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon (each) salt and pepper
4-1/2 cups briefly cooked corn kernels, or leftover corn with cilantro-lime salt
5 cups corn cob stock (see above)
Greek yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche
Add the oil, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to a medium soup pot set over low heat. Cover, and let the vegetables soften and sweat for about 15 minutes, stirring two or three times. Add corn kernels and corn cob stock. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat, partly cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Puree about three-quarters of the soup, then return to the pot. Correct seasonings (salt, pepper, and some lime juice), as the natural flavor of the soup will be quite sweet. Swirl each serving with yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche.