Cape Cod Corn Canoes
I created this sinfully rich and utterly delectable corn off the cob recipe fifteen years ago to accompany a Labor Day lobster bake my aunt and uncle were hosting at their Cape Cod home. Since I had just recently moved from Nantucket to Cape Cod, the recipe’s alliterative name seemed like a natural. The “canoe” shape is fashioned from the corn husks, which house a colorful filling of corn kernels blended with sun-dried tomatoes, dried porcini mushrooms, and creamy mascarpone. The recipe’s Labor Day debut seems apt, since making these canoes can indeed be a labor of love. Patience, however, will be rewarded as everyone who tastes these “canoes” begs for the recipe. I change the recipe a bit from time to time and will sometimes use lighter panko bread crumbs in place of the buttery and oh-so-New Englandy Ritz cracker crumbs.
- 12 sun-dried tomato halves
- 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 8 ears very fresh local corn, unhusked
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-size onion, peeled and minced
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, white and tender green parts minced
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) mascarpone cheese, preferably from Vermont Creamery
- 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 4 tablespoons slivered fresh basil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers or panko bread crumbs
- Place the sun-dried tomatoes and dried porcini mushrooms in 2 separate small saucepans. Add water to each pan to cover the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms by a couple of inches and let come just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the tomatoes and mushrooms simmer until nicely plumped, about 10 minutes. Remove the pans from the heat and set them aside.
- Pull off a strip of corn husk 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide lengthwise from each ear of corn to expose a strip of kernels. Discard these strips of husk. Carefully peel back the remaining husks, keeping them attached to the stem ends of the cobs. Snap the stem ends off the cobs, making sure to keep the husks attached at that end. Remove and discard the corn silk clinging to the kernels and husks. Tear a thin strip from a tender inner portion of each husk and use it to tie the loose ends of that husk together to make a “canoe” shape. Arrange canoes on a large baking sheet.
- Cut the corn kernels from the ears, discarding the cobs and setting the kernels aside. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and porcini mushrooms, coarsely mince each, and set them aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels, sun-dried tomatoes, and porcini mushrooms, and cook until the corn is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Stir the mascarpone and Monterey Jack into the corn mixture, folding gently but thoroughly. Add the basil and season the filling with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the filling carefully into the prepared husks, dividing it equally among them.
- Combine the Ritz cracker crumbs or panko crumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle this mixture lightly over the top of each canoe. The corn canoes may be prepared to this point and refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 12 hours before baking. Bring to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Bake the corn canoes until the husks are slightly charred and the filling is piping hot, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve the corn canoes hot.