Monday, September 27, 2010

COOKING DICHOTOMY

A separation into two divisions that differ widely from or contradict each other – that is the Encarta dictionary definition of Dichotomy. It occurred to me this morning as I was reading my daily emails from my favorite cooking e-newsletters, that I have a very diverse batch of food-related reading material arriving to my in-box on a weekly basis. Very much dichotomy-ish if you get my drift.

This morning I was reading my America’s Test Kitchen weekly email telling me how to make the best spicy, bacon-flecked creamed corn using heavy cream, bacon and just a “touch” of sugar if the corn isn’t quite sweet enough (at a little over 300 calories per serving) and then scrolled down to read my Eating Well email describing a fresh corn and tomato sauté with nearly no fat added (a skinny 87 calories per serving).

These two sources couldn't be any more different - America's Test Kitchen tests it's recipes aiming for authenticity and enhanced flavor with little regard for calorie counting or nutrition while Eating Well works to provide a great compromise between the high fat content of really good flavor and the common sense of sensible nutrition. 

Both corn recipes had my mouth watering and my brain wandering off to where I might pick up some fresh corn this late summer weekend. How to choose between the two techniques? The plump devil on my left shoulder says "go for the creamy bacon version" while the skinny devil on my right says "go for the lighter, fresher version".  BUT I WANT THEM BOTH screams the food lover in me!  High flavor and creamy goodness versus sensible unadulterated natural flavors.  Is this a dichotomy, or what!?

So…given that my garden is providing prolific amounts of cherry tomatoes and basil, I’m going to try to meld these two recipes and come up with something that may be a good compromise for both flavor and calories while at the same time, turning this into a single serving recipe for one.  I’ll call it :

SORT-OF-CREAMY CORN & TOMATO SAUTE WITH BACON & BASIL
(sounds good huh?)

1/2 slice bacon, diced small, fried, and drained
1 tsp olive oil
2 ears of corn kernels and the cobs scraped of their milk (use the back of your knife to scrape the cobs, you’ll be surprised at the juice that comes out.)
3 oz. (5-6) cherry tomatoes, quartered
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Sprig of basil leaves, sliced (or you can use fresh thyme or tarragon or even sage would be good here)


Fry up the bacon, remove from the skillet and drain it well on a paper towel. Wipe out the fat from the skillet, add the olive oil, corn and corn milk and let sauté for a 4-5 minutes. This should be a bit wet rather than a dry sauté due to the corn milk so it won't brown.

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let warm through. Add the basil at the last minute, sprinkle with the bacon crumbles and serve.

I ate this tonight with a piece of grilled smoked sausage and it made a terrific and quick meal for well under 600 calories.  It made a good sized portion, really enough for two servings, but I was hungry and ate it all anyhow. 

Tweek: If you’re not afraid of using the bacon fat, don't bother to clean out the pan, just use the drippings rather than the olive oil to sauté your corn to give this dish a smokier, deeper flavor - bacon and corn are good buddies!

Tweek 2: I had a piece of a jalepeno pepper sitting on the cutting board and was tempted to add a bit of pepper to the skillet. I didn't end up doing that, but it certainly would have worked in here if you like spicy corn.

If you’d like to subscribe to either of the fantastic e-newsletters mentioned above, you’ll find the information here: http://www.eatingwell.com/ and www.americastestkitchen.com/corp/contactus.asp

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