Monday, April 25, 2016

Grits with Corn Cob Stock

When I was a kid, I adored corn on the cob.

Okay, I still adore it. But when I was a kid, I'd eat the corn off the cob, then I'd roll the cob around in the leftover butter on the plate, and I'd suck on the cob like I was still eating corn off it it, but just sort of hoovering out the last bits of flavor.

Fine. Okay. I might still do that. When no one is looking.

I mean, really, do I have to admit all my bad habits?

The point I'm wanting to make is that there's a lot of good flavor in that cob. You can't eat it ... but you can use it.

Recently, I had the book Up South in my hands thanks to a cookbook exchange group I belong to, and one of the recommendations was to make "corn stock" from corn cobs and then use that stock to make grits. I didn't try it at the time because there was no fresh corn around.

It's still not close to corn season here, but there was fresh corn at one of the local grocery stores, so I figured I'd try this corn stock thing. I didn't follow the recipe in the book (it's since been passed to the next person in the group) but I figured it couldn't be all that hard to extract flavor from some cobs.

I don't know if it matters if you use raw or cooked cobs that you've cut the kernels off of. I had two of each. But it might be kind of ... not great if you used cobs that people gnawed the corn off of. Or just not great to think that you did that.

I also included a few of the inner green leaves from the corn. My mom always used a few of them when she boiled corn on the cob, so I figured I'd toss a few into my stock as well. If you think that's weird, just leave 'em out.

Grits with Fresh Corn Stock

4 corn cobs (after the kernels are removed)
4 inner light green corn leaves from cobs (optional)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup grits (not instant)

Put the corn cobs and corn leaves in your pressure cooker (I used my Instant Pot) and set to high pressure. Cook for 10 minutes, then let the pressure reduce naturally for at least 10 minutes before venting the remaining pressure.

Remove the cobs and the leaves. You're likely to have some bits of corn floating in the water. That's perfectly fine.

Add the salt and butter, then add the grits while whisking.

When the grits are added, put the lid on and set the Instant Pot to the Porridge setting, with a time of 20 minutes. If you don't have an Instant Pot, just set it for high pressure for 20 minutes. When the time is up, let it reduce pressure naturally for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes if you get distracted. The longer you leave it, the softer and creamier the grits will be since they keep cooking during this time.

Vent any remaining pressure and remove the lid. The grits might look a little watery, but as you stir them, they'll thicken up. If you don't serve right away, they'll get even thicker, so you might need to add a bit of water if you're not quite ready for them.

If you have leftovers, refrigerate them. When you reheat you'll need to add water for sure.