Vail Daily column: Make the most of late summer corn |

Vail Daily column: Make the most of late summer corn

Sue Barham
Simply Seasonal
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – The rural Colorado town of Olathe, located midway between Delta and Montrose, has been supplying the Vail Valley with a bounty of sweet corn since early August. Autumn may be in the air, but don’t abandon this inexpensive late season crop. Local grocery stores still have late summer corn stacked up, and for as little as four ears for $1.

Colorado corn can be traced to the ancient Anasazi who farmed at Mesa Verde. As one of the “three sisters” of agriculture (squash and beans are the others), corn served as a staple food. The Anasazi might not recognize our present day sweet corn tucked into the beds of trucks rumbling through towns. Still, Olathe Sweet from the Western Slope is a descendant from that ancient humble and tough plant.

Most agree that an ear of corn slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt is one of life’s simple pleasures. But if your family is tired of corn on the cob, surprise them and enjoy the late summer crop in easy recipes from Larkspur Restaurant’s culinary team.

Earlier this summer, Executive Chef Armando Navarro presented a demonstration of tasty corn dishes, including Colorado corn soup, at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. He gave a similar demonstration at the Vail Farmer’s Market the following weekend and once again, the requests for the recipe came flooding in. Just last week, Navarro donated five gallons of the soup to Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for the Vail Valley Salvation Army’s pantry.

“It’s just corn,” Navarro said. “Learning how to make the most of an ingredient is the best secret. Make your stock from the corn cobs. It will intensify the flavor of your soup and you feel good about not wasting anything”

Larkspur’s Pastry Chef Mark Metzger uses fresh corn, corn oil and cornmeal to make moist and delicious cornbread. Top a slice with raspberry jalapeno jam for a spicy combination.

Colorado corn soup

10 ears corn, kernals removed

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons whole unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion diced

2 leek bottoms diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 gallon corn stock

Salt and pepper

Remove kernels from ears of corn, saving kernels and husks. In one gallon of water cook husks on low boil for one hour, strain and reserve stock. In separate pot melt butter and add onions, leeks and garlic. Sweat (low heat) till onions are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Add corn kernels and corn stock cook for additional 45 minutes. Add cream and cook another 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. May be served warm or chilled.

Yield 1 gallon.

Olathe cornbread

Recipe adjusted for altitude above 8,000 feet. Use a 10-inch cake pan or cast iron skillet and be sure to line it with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2 cups milk

5 eggs

1cup corn oil

1 1/2 pounds sugar

1 cup corn meal

4 1/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels

Pre-heat oven to 325-degrees. Place all dry ingredients, except corn, in bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on low till incorporated. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix till completely incorporated. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add fresh corn and mix for another 20 seconds. Pour into prepared cake pan, about 3/4 deep. Bake for 25 minutes. Should be slightly moist on the inside and golden.

Raspberry jalapeno jam

4 cups raspberries

1/2 cup water

1 small jalapeno pepper, finely diced (seeds, stem and membrane removed)

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mixing occasionally for 20 minutes or until jam is thickened and reduced. Serve with Olathe cornbread.

Creamy corn pudding

10 ears of corn

2 tablespoons whole butter

Salt and pepper

Grate ears of corn on a box grater, reserving husks for stock. Place grated corn and all the juices in a pot on low heat. Simmer till most of the liquid has evaporated, approximately fve minutes. Finish with butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm. An excellent accompaniment to grilled meat, chicken or fish. Serves 6 to 8.

Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, ( at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, ( opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market-driven menu.

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