A Corny Story

I love sweetcorn. I love cheap and seasonal food. I love being in New Zealand in May when the harvest is coming to an end and there is a glut of corn cobs available everywhere, sometimes less than 20c for each kernel encrusted delight.

Corn on the cob cooked incorrectly can be soggy, waterlogged and tasteless or burnt and dry. I am surprised by the amount of times I have had corn that has been very substandard as it is sooooo easy to cook!

My fool proof way to cook corn on the cob is also very simple and more flexible than a sub prime mortgage company pre 2007. It is forgiving on timing (you can easily double the cooking time if something else isn’t quite ready) and temperature (cook for longer on lower temperatures and less on higher).

When buying corn, choose cobs that feel heavy for their size and are free of mould or insects.

Step 1

Don’t peel your cobs, get the whole cobs and run them under the tap for 5 minutes or so. If you live in an area where water is precious, place them in a sink full of water for a similar length of time.
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Step 2

Put the soaked cobs still in their skins in an oven between 140C and 200C (don’t worry if it is a bit hotter or cooler).

Step 3

If you are cooking at around 160C, cook for around 10-15 minutes minimum to 30 or so minutes maximum. Adjust timings for hotter or cooler ovens. In an emergency (is there really such a thing as a cooking emergency?) after 30 minutes, dip the cobs in the sink full of water again and return to the oven – it should buy you some more time.

Step 4

Peel cobs and dress with butter, salt and pepper (or for a fat free version that is surprisingly good, squeeze lime and sprinkle with smoked paprika).

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The Best Roast Potatoes

Normally I like quick and simple to prepare dishes that look really difficult.

I find that the best roast potatoes tend to be almost the opposite of this; they need some careful and time-consuming prep to produce in essence something simple.

However the results are well worth it – nothing goes better with a British Sunday lunch than great roasties, soft and fluffy in the middle and oh so crisp on the outside. The treat of stealing one fresh from the oven whilst waiting for the rest of the lunch to come together is a guilty pleasure indeed…

The secret to this dish is to use a large enough baking tray so that you can get a good layer of fat and that the potatoes have enough space to move around.

Make plenty as if any are left (unlikely) they are not bad cold, sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper and dipped in mayonnaise.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

12-14 medium potatoes (marfona or other floury variety)
Goose fat or beef dripping sufficient to give around 3-5mm depth in your chosen roasting tin.
Sea salt

Method

1. Peel potatoes and cut them into decent size chunks. (tip: this is a great job to get someone else to do!)
2. Preheat oven to around 200c.
3. Parboil potatoes in a large pan of salted water for around 4 or 5 minutes.
4. In the meantime, place the goose fat or beef dripping in the roasting tin and place in the hot oven.
5. Drain potatoes and return them to pan away from the hob. Keep the hob on high as you will need it again in a second
6. Place lid on pan of drained potatoes and shake them vigorously for 5 seconds to rough them up a bit. Place to one side. Take great care and use tea towels with this as everything is very hot and if your grasps not good and firm, it is easy to end up covered in hotter than he’ll potatoes.
7. Take roasting tin from oven and place on your hot hob.
8. The oil will be smoking so you need to work quickly (but carefully as everything is hideously hot) and place the roughed up potatoes into the roasting tin on the hob. The potatoes should sizzle.
9. Whilst the potatoes are still sizzling on the hob, turn them around so they are well covered in the hot oil.
10. Return the tin to the hot oven and roast for around 40 minutes. Halfway through cooking, turn the potatoes again.
11. Take out from oven and drain the roasties on absorbent paper, sprinkle with salt and serve.