Poach Your Corn in a Buttery Milk Bath

Photo: Claire Lower
Photo: Claire Lower

Every year, I get on social media and shout about how you don’t have to cook corn, and then I eat a lot of raw corn (mostly in “salads” that are actually just bowls of corn with seasoning). But I am not above a cooked ear or seven. I like it grilled, I like it steamed, I like it stripped from the cob and sautéed in bacon grease. But the easiest, tastiest way to ensure the kernels come out plump, juicy, and lightly buttered is to let your corn spend some time in a butter and milk bath.

The butter and milk bath is a pretty common way to cook a bunch of corn, but it is fairly new to me. I love it for several reasons. It’s quick — your corn is ready to eat, already buttered, in under 15 minutes — and your only limiting factor is the size of your pot. Besides corn, all you need is some water, a stick of butter, and a cup of milk. You let the corn swim around in the simmering dairy bath for just over five minutes, then you eat it. Perhaps you salt it first. That is up to you.

As I mentioned, the corn comes out lightly buttered, so this is perfect for those of you who complain that “good sweet corn barely needs butter.” The melted butter combines with the milk, forming a sort of oil slick on the top that coats the cobs as you remove them. It helps to cut the heat a few minutes before you take the corn out of the pot, however — boiling butter and milk will slide right off. If you want more butter on your corn, you can always add another half stick and decrease the milk by a quarter of a cup. Or you can butter it with a piece of bread. Both are good options.

Butter aside, the real beauty of this method is that it produces some of the juiciest corn I’ve ever eaten. The mixture of milk and butter gets in between the super plump kernels, keeping everything moist and flavorful. If you like, you can throw in a handful of herbs or chilli flakes into the bath for extra flavour, but sweet summer corn rarely needs it. To make milk and butter poached corn, you will need:

  • 6-8 ears of corn
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter

Remove the husks and silks from your corn and chop the ears in half if you like. Fill a medium-to-large pot about halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Add the milk and butter, decrease the heat to bring everything to a simmer, then add the corn. Cook for about 6 minutes, then cut the heat and let cool for about 3 minutes. Remove the corn from the bath, season with salt if you like, and enjoy.

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