Summer Corn Bruschetta
I've had my share of haute cuisine, dishes with ingredient and instruction lists as long as the Torah, but I'm still more impressed by a simple dish executed perfectly. My first bite of Matt Daughaday's food came during my first meal at Taste when he brought out his sweet corn bruschetta. It sounded like something I'd whip together at home with leftovers. Corn, peaches, bacon, shiitake mushrooms, ricotta, cilantro, chilies—I almost always have these around. Yet, one bite in, I knew I had never made anything so simple and so perfect in my life. I hated it for reminding me that I am just some measly home cook and loved it because it was such an outstanding dish. I needed it again, but alas, it was not to be. A few days after my meal, I found out Matt would be leaving and starting his own restaurant, Reeds American Table.
For a very brief time, a risotto version of this dish popped up at Reeds, and it was glorious, but the Chef Matt giveth and the Chef Matt taketh away. Finally, a few weeks back, I got the text I longed for so badly: "Corn bruschetta is back on the menu. Come get it!"
I've gone three times just to have it, really. Matt was gracious enough to give me the recipe to share with you fine people—if you scroll to the bottom, it also includes his housemade ricotta recipe. It's easy to do, but if you don't feel like it, you can use store-bought stuff. Matt only makes it when corn is in season, but I have no qualms about making the creamed corn ricotta using the frozen stuff during the winter. Add peaches, add bacon, add whatever you'd like: just make sure the corn ricotta is on there.
Yield: 6 portions
CREAMED CORN RICOTTA
1 lb fresh ricotta (about 2 cups)
1 c fresh shucked corn
3 T canola oil
Salt to taste
3 T canola oil
4 c fresh corn kernels
1-2 red thai chili, sliced as thinly as possible
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 tsp marjoram, chopped
2 T butter
2 limes, zested
4 oz. queso fresco
6-8 sprigs of cilantro, picked
Salt to taste
6 slices fresh country loaf, 1/2” thick
CREAMED CORN RICOTTA
Turn on sauté pan over high heat, add the oil and let it come a point where the oil just begins to smoke.
Turn off the flame to avoid a flare up from the moisture in the corn, add the corn to the pan and turn flame back on high. Season with salt and allow to cook till you see the corn begin to caramelize. Toss corn once and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Corn will begin to pop when done. (Not into popcorn, just loud pops, with the occasional kernel flying out of the pan and onto your neck like a tiny missile)
Place cooked corn on a plate to cool.
Once corn is completely cool, place fresh ricotta and corn into your food processor and turn on and let whip till the mix seems smooth and almost shiny. Put into a bowl and leave in the fridge to cool and set up.
Put sauté pan over high heat, add oil to the pan and let it come to a smoke point. Turn off the flame, add your corn, turn the pan back to medium high and let cook until you begin to see the corn caramelize. Add your butter, Thai chili, marjoram, and cherry tomatoes, toss to mix everything and cook an additional minute. Turn off the heat, add lime zest and season with salt.
Add a little oil and salt to the bread and grill either on a grill pan or an actual grill if you happen to already be using one for your meal. Don’t be scared to get nice dark char marks.
Once bread is grilled spread a nice layer of the corn creamed ricotta on top of the bread, then top with a couple spoonfuls of the corn ragu and press it into the cheese lightly so it doesn’t fall off on you.
Next, sprinkle with a little of the queso fresco and picked cilantro. Cut the piece of toast into three or four slices and you are ready to serve.
This is what happens when you don't turn your flame off. You don't want this to happen in your house. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.
Yield: 2lbs of Cheese
1 gal. whole milk
2 c heavy cream
2 T salt
1/2 c distilled vinegar
Place milk, cream and salt in a heavy bottom pot big enough to leave at least 6” of space from the top of the liquid to the top of the pot. Place on the stove over high heat.
Bring milk up to a boil (this is where you will need to watch it closely because once the milk reaches a boil it will climb quickly in pot and overflow, leaving a big mess on the top of your stove that is not fun to clean)
As the milk comes to a boil it will begin to rise to the top of your pot. As soon as it hit the top of the pot, turn off heat and pour in the vinegar and give it one good stir with either a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Pull the pot off the stove and let it rest on your countertop for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to strain. During this time you should start to see your cheese coagulating on the top of the pot.
After letting the cheese rest and set up for the allotted time, set up a colander lined with cheese cloth over a bucket to catch the whey. Use a mesh skimmer, or slotted spoon if you don’t have a skimmer, and skim off the cheese and place it in the cheese lined colander to drain.
Place cheese in the cooler and let sit to set up for at least 1 hour, up to overnight. The longer you let it sit the drier your cheese will come out.