Recipe: Corn With Crème Fraiche, Lime, and Chili

schneider mar26 cornrecipe.jpg

Photo by stevelyon/Flickr CC


Inspired by a street food offering in Sayulita, Mexico, this revisionist version is great for less-than-perfect summer corn or leftover grilled or boiled corn on the cob. An intense version of creamed corn, it makes a terrific side dish. You can also use the crème fraiche, lime juice, and chile mixture instead of butter to slather whole ears of corn.

Or, for the authentic, impromtu Sayulita version (which would be fun to do for a summer party): cut the kernels off the corn, hot out of the pot or grill, put in individual bowls and mix to taste with crème fraiche, lime juice, salt, and chile. (For directions for making your own crème fraiche, see the head note of Homemade Butter).

If you happen to be cream-averse, leave out the crème fraiche; corn soars with the simple addition of lime juice, chile, and salt.

Makes four Servings

    • 6 ears fresh corn, shucked
    • 1 to 1 ¼ cups crème fraiche
    • OR about 2/3 cup heavy cream plus 2/3 cup sour cream (see note)
    • 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
    • A few pinches chile powder such as ancho, chipotle, or Pimenton de la Vera, to taste
    • OR one fresh serrano chile or small jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)

In a large bowl, stand an ear of corn upright. Using a serrated or thin sharp knife, slice the corn kernels off the cobs, working from top to bottom and rotating the cob as you go. After the cob has stripped, use the back of the knife to scrape pulp and milk off the cob. You should have 5 cups of corn kernels.

Place the corn in a medium skillet saucepan or skillet and add a few tablespoons of water. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, cooking a minute or two until the corn is barely tender and the water has evaporated. Stir in the crème fraiche and lime juice, and season with chili and salt; cook a minute or two longer until thick. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve at once.

(Note: If using sour cream, add the heavy cream as you would the crème fraiche above; when thick, turn off the eat and stir in the sour cream, lime juice, salt, and chile).

Presented by

Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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