Don’t just eat it on the cob – the subtle flavour of sweetcorn makes it the ideal

Unfortunately, sweetcorn is all too often just eaten on the cob after having been simply boiled or, if you're feeling really adventurous, thrown on the barbecue.

A lot of people, though, find eating sweetcorn rather messy – which is probably why tins of the stuff are more popular than the real thing. I should admit here that I'm a bit of a fan of canned sweetcorn as, rather like frozen peas, it's not only convenient but very tasty, too. For some reason the canning process doesn't seem to destroy the corn's natural flavours.

When I cook corn kernels off the cob at home, I simply cook them in salted water with some sugar and then leave them in the cooking liquid for an hour or so, or even overnight; a process which seems to capture the sweetness and flavour of the robust corn kernels. I would recommend using this method for the dishes below if you are using fresh corn; and don't be afraid to slightly overcook the corn, as there is nothing worse than al dente corn with no flavour.

Roast partridge with creamed sweetcorn and girolles

Serves 4

Unlike grouse, the gamey flavour of partridge is mild, which makes it the perfect partner for other delicate ingredients. I've served this as a starter here; just double the ingredients if you want to eat it as a main course.

150g cooked sweetcorn kernels, cooked as above
1tbsp double cream
2 oven-ready partridges
120g butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g girolles, cleaned
1tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Place the partridge in a roasting tray, rub the breasts with about one-third of the butter and season. Roast for 10-15 minutes depending on their size, keeping them nice and pink. Meanwhile, drain and blend the sweetcorn in a food processor or liquidiser until fairly smooth, then transfer to a pan. Season, add the cream and a good knob of butter and reheat.

Melt the rest of the butter in a shallow saucepan, season and cook the girolles on a medium heat, turning them as they are cooking, for 2-3 minutes until tender, then stir in the parsley.

To serve, remove the legs and breasts from the partridge, spoon the hot sweetcorn on to warmed serving plates, arrange the leg and breasts on top and spoon the girolles over.

Spiced corn and scrumpy fritters

Serves 4-6

These are great little snacks served with drinks or as an accompaniment to grilled meats or poultry. I discovered recently that you can make fantastic batter using Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour, after Marcus Verberne, my chef at Brown's Hotel, happened to be cooking a gluten-free meal for his wife Jo; he was delighted with the Doves Farm produce.

You could serve these with a dip such as crème fraîche mixed with some chopped coriander and grated lime zest; or whatever takes your fancy.

150g cooked sweetcorn kernels, chopped
3tbsp chopped chives
tsp dried Japanese red chilli flakes or a small red chilli, finely chopped
120g Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour, or equivalent
About 120-150ml scrumpy or dry cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

Mix the sweetcorn, chives, chilli and flour together and add enough scrumpy to make a thick batter. Season the mix and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Drop a teaspoon of the mixture into the hot fat and cook for a minute or so until golden, turning it with a slotted spoon as it's cooking, and drain on some kitchen paper.

Check the seasoning and if the mix is a little stodgy, then just let it down with some more scrumpy.

If you want to make them in advance, you can cook the fritters in a few batches without colouring them completely; then you can just return them to the hot fat when required.

Chicken, sweetcorn and tarragon soup

Serves 4

You could also try adding a few fried girolles to this recipe for added luxury.

1 raw free-range chicken carcass, chopped
2 free-range chicken legs (or thighs or drumsticks)
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
60g butter, plus a couple of knobs more
50g flour
1ltrs chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 sweetcorn, cooked as before
Leaves from a few sprigs of tarragon
60ml double cream
A little chopped parsley
A few girolles, lightly fried (optional)

Put the chicken carcass and legs into a pan with the onion, leek, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, stalks from the tarragon and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the sweetcorn kernels from the husk with a sharp knife and cook them in boiling salted water with a couple of tablespoons of sugar for about 10 minutes or until tender, then strain and put to one side. Remove the chicken legs from the stock and leave them to cool, then strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve.

In a clean pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour on a medium heat. Gradually add the strained stock, one ladle at a time, stirring well to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil, season and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Blend the soup with a hand blender to give it a nice silky finish. Remove the meat from the chicken and flake into even-sized pieces, then add to the soup with the girolles (if you are using), the cream, sweetcorn and parsley. Re-season to taste, then simmer for a minute or so before serving.

Sweetcorn drop scones with duck livers

Serves 4

200g duck livers, cleaned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g butter
2tbsp dry sherry

For the drop scones

225g plain flour
tsp bicarbonate of soda
tsp cream of tartar
2 eggs, beaten
275ml milk
120g cooked sweetcorn kernels, roughly chopped, cooked as above

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into a bowl. Stir in the eggs, sweetcorn and enough of the milk to form a smooth batter. Heat a griddle pan and rub it with a little vegetable oil. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and let them cook for 3 minutes until bubbles rise, turn them over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper while you are cooking the rest.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large heavy frying pan until it begins to foam. Season the livers and pan-fry them for a couple of minutes on each side, keeping them nice and pink. Pour the sherry into the pan; remove from the heat. Place the drop scones on to warmed plates and spoon the livers and pan juices over.

Comments