Vintage Kitchen: Old Carolina Tobacco Country Roasted Corn


STEPHANIE BURT (this article was first published in November 2012)

Photo by Leslie McKellar

Photo by Leslie McKellar

I gave myself a gift this past autumn – a subscription to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and so I have been inundated with fresh, organic veggies as of late.

Corn on the cob came in my “bag” a few weeks ago, and the farm explained that the corn had been affected by the drought; and although it was short, the flavor was good. What arrived in my bag definitely was no corn supermodel – these little ears were, well, very little, and more than a little gnarly looking.

This was corn at its most unadorned – raw, on the cob, and definitely lacking in the perfectness that my grocery store upbringing was demanding – but what better for a Vintage Kitchen recipe? These corn cobs looked vintage, so I decided on a simple preparation to really test the power of the “tastes better than it looks” mantra.

Photo by Leslie McKellar

Photo by Leslie McKellar

Roasting Ears, Old Carolina Tobacco Country Cook Book: From the Great Depression to World War II, by Arlene Crisp Aaseby. Pub. A Taste of Carolina, 1986. (Original Version)

Corn matured in the corn patches about the same time tobacco was harvested. Often the ears of corn were roasted in the coals in the tobacco barn furnace.

6 ears of fresh corn shucked down to the last two layers.

Pull shucks back so the silks etc. can be removed and corn washed, if necessary. Replace the two layers of shuck and put in 400 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Corn will be steamed and roasted. Serve with butter.

This time of year is especially beautiful in North Carolina farm country. The broomsedge fields are a muted fire, nights are cool, and even city girls like myself can easily dream that a hay ride might be fun (it’s a bit itchy, really). Roasted corn is the stuff of autumn festivals, and I was more than a little skeptical that this festival magic could be achieved in the oven.

I could not have been more wrong. This corn was some of the most delicious I have ever made at home. Really. And it was so easy! This is now my go-to corn prep, and maybe you should make it yours.

Photo by Leslie McKellar

Photo by Leslie McKellar


Roasting Ears, Vintage Kitchen Translation

Old Carolina Tobacco Country Cook Book: From the Great Depression to World War II, by Arlene Crisp Aaseby. Pub. A Taste of Carolina, 1986. (Updated Version)

Corn matured in the corn patches about the same time tobacco was harvested. Often the ears of corn were roasted in the coals in the tobacco barn furnace.

6 ears of fresh corn shucked down to the last two layers (I used as many as I had – you can fill your oven with two pans if you’re making for a crowd.)

1. Pull shucks back so the silks etc. can be removed and corn washed, if necessary. (“Etc.”  can mean little corn grubs, so yes, definitely wash. The silks can be removed pretty easily with a brush, but don’t worry if you miss a stray or two.)

2. Replace the two layers of shuck (Don’t pull off all the layers of green, but unless they are just picked, the husks might be a little brittle and not lay back down smoothly, covering all the kernels. I did not find this to be a problem.)

3. and put (on an ungreased baking sheet) in 400 (415) degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Corn will be steamed and roasted.

4. Serve with butter. (I made a quick compound butter using ½ stick of softened salted butter combined with 1 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning. Place a dollop on each cob and once melted, serve.)

Photo by Leslie McKellar

Photo by Leslie McKellar

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