Month: July 2019

The best way to cook corn on the cob!

The best way to cook corn on the cob!

Boiling, microwave, Instant Pot. Which is best?

There isn’t much to cooking corn on the cob: you just shuck each ear, maybe cut off some of the stem, peel off the corn silks and drop them into boiling, salted water, and cook for 5 minutes. That’s it. The water should be salted enough that it smells like the ocean, and it is easiest to use kosher salt to achieve this. Serve with butter and salt on the side.

boiling

What’s wrong with this? Nothing except you might need a big pot for a large crowd. And, of course, you are steaming up your kitchen.

But some people rave about using the microwave or the Instant Pot for cooking corn, so we compared all three methods.

Microwaved corn

Some people claim that the microwave does the best job and you don’t have to heat up the kitchen with a pot of boiling water, so we tried this.

We cut the base off an ear of corn, but left the husk on, and using our best Internet research, microwaved the corn for 4 minutes. Taking a hot ear of corn out of the microwave requires hot pads and some care, and removing the hot, steaming husks is a challenge. And, all the silks come off smoothly, unlike the other methods.

The disadvantage again, is one of scale: you can only microwave a few ears at a time and removing the steaming hot husks from a bunch of them is best done with gloves or oven mitts. And, frankly, the corn tastes awful! (more below)

In the Instant Pot

2 in IP

Lots of people are enthusiastic about corn on the cob cooked in an Instant Pot. You have to shuck the corn as usual and pull of most of the silks by hand, but you can probably get 4-6 or more ears in an Instant Pot at once. We recommend putting the ears on the little trivet so they don’t stick to the pot. Add a cup of water and cook the ears for 3 minutes. Of course, by the time the water in the pot comes to a boil, this actually takes at least as long as boiling the water on the stove would, but you can cook a lot of ears quickly, and you don’t have to deal with scalding yourself on the husks.

How do they compare?

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  • Cooking the ears in a pot of water tastes the best.
  • Ears cooked for 4 minutes in an 1100 watt microwave are hot and hard to handle, because the cobs are very hot, too. Further the corn takes on a bitter, cobby taste from the cob being heated. Actually they are really terrible.
  • We repeated the experiment, cooking the corn for only 3 minutes and this removed some (but not all) of the bitter aftertaste.
  • Our best corn came from cooking for 4 minutes at 50% power, where the bitterness is least apparent.

Surprisingly the corn cooked in the Instant Pot was little better.

  • Pressure cooking the corn for 3 minutes also cooks the cob, and some of that bitter aftertaste was present in the Instant Pot corn.
  • So, we repeated the corn cooking at low pressure instead of high pressure, which removed nearly all of that bitterness. But 3 minutes was  not nearly enough. Six minutes at low pressure seems better. Quick Release either way.

Best results

  • 5 minutes in boiling, salted water
  • 4 minutes at 50% power in an 1100 watt microwave
  • 6 minutes at low pressure in an Instant Pot

Some recipes suggest adding sugar and butter to the water in the Instant Pot. This probably doesn’t do much, because the water doesn’t touch the corn, and sugar is not volatile.

We found that spreading solid butter on the hot corn gives the bets flavor. Butter is an emulsion and melted butter usually leaves out the aqueous part.

stalks

 

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A Roman club sandwich

A Roman club sandwich

We ordered a club sandwich at our hotel in Rome and were really surprised with their interpretation. Instead of 3 kinds of lunch meat (usually turkey, beef and ham) this delicious sandwich was a BLT with large chunks of tender chicken and topped with a fried egg. Served with French fries, it was a fantastic lunch!

We set out to duplicate it using a fresh garden tomato and freshly picked lettuce.

  • 3 slices toasted bread
  • Chicken breasts
  • Bacon
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayonnaise

We cooked the chicken breasts in our Instant Pot for 10 minutes, and let them slowly cool for 10 minutes before opening the pot. You could also cook them in a vegetable steamer or under a broiler. We added a bit of dried onion to the cup of water in the Instant Pot, but it probably wasn’t necessary.

chicken

When the breasts were cool, we cut them into cubes.

We fried 4 strips of bacon slowly in a fry pan and set them aside.

For each sandwich,

  • butter the toast.
  • Put lettuce and tomato on the bottom layer, with a dab of mayonnaise
  • Put chicken on the second layer of toast, and dab with more mayonnaise
  • Add the bacon on top of the chicken

Fry 2 eggs slowly in the bacon fat, turning them over once so the tops are cooked and the yolks are only slightly runny.

  • Top each sandwich with an egg and the top piece of toast.
  • Secure with toothpicks.
  • You can cut off the crusts before or after assembly or just leave them on.
  • Cut each sandwich in half.

We served ours with some French fries.

sang2

palatine

 

Blackstone’s Steakhouse, Norwalk

Blackstone’s Steakhouse, Norwalk

Sunday night we decided we had to try the well-known Blackstone’s Steakhouse in Norwalk. They also have restaurants in Greenwich, Stamford and Southport, each with similar but slightly different menus.

Despite it’s unprepossessing exterior at 181 Main in Norwalk, we are delighted to tell you that this is an excellent restaurant a a terrific atmosphere, excellent service and outstanding food. Of course, being a steakhouse, it is not inexpensive, but there are some non-beef items on the extensive menu that are more budget-minded.

tables

The decor is warm and elegant with white tablecloth settings and wine and water glass already in place. You know when you enter that this is sure to be an excellent meal. And it was.

When you sit down, you are served a dish of colorful olives and a basket of warm bread, with a dish of real butter, not that drippy olive oil.

crab cake

We each started with their Maryland Crab Cake ($14.95). It was pretty much all crab with very little filler and a mild, spicy flavor you could enhance with their cucumber/wasabi sauce. This was a great idea and added a lot to the crab cake.

The wine list is extensive and they do offer w number of wines by the glass.

For steaks, one of ordered the Steak au Blue, prime New York strip steak topped with Blue Cheese Gratinee’ ($41.95) The meat was juicy, tender and flavorful and cooked exactly medium rare. We loved it and brought home leftovers for a sandwich.

steak au blue cut

Our other entrée was essentially a bone-in Ribeye, although on sale that night for $43.95. We were impressed at how it was carved and served in little medallions, as well. Also, tender and flavorful.

Finally, we shared an amazing dish called “1/2 Cottage Fries and 1/2 Fried Onions.” The cottage fries were essentially potato chips, but the fried onions were spectacularly tasty and we alternated onion bites with bites of our steaks.

onion rings

We didn’t have room for desserts, but they are fairly conventional: apple pie, chocolate mousse, carrot cake, lemon/orange sorbet, tartuffo, tiramisu, cheesecake, creme brulee and lava cake. Maybe we’ll get to try some next time!

We were incredibly impressed with the staff’s charm and professionalism and are sure to return to Blackstone’s whenever we feel like a great steak dinner.

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