Thursday, January 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob

Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob

6 healthy, easy, no-butter flavors, with or without foil


Cooking corn on the cob just got a whole lot easier and healthier. This easy crock pot method means no more pots of boiling water that heat the kitchen and boil away nutrients in the corn. Slowly steaming the corn in its own juices with some simple, healthy seasonings results in moist, tender, amazingly delicious corn with NO BUTTER. 
If you are a purist and believe that corn on the cob must be slathered in butter, this same slow cooker technique can be used with butter. So go ahead and use it, if you like.
However, if you'd like a healthier, lower calorie alternative that is still really tasty, I recommend that you give these no-butter seasonings a try. The slow cooking process brings out the flavor and sweetness of the corn. I'm telling you that this is some of the best corn I've ever made. King-Man even agrees with that, and he grew up on corn picked fresh from the garden on his family farm--always boiled and eaten with butter. He's very picky about his corn and gave this method an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Foil or no foil. You can do it either way. I personally prefer the taste of the corn that is seasoned and individually wrapped in foil. The foil method creates a steamy little home for the corn that traps in the flavor and moisture. However, it's still very good to skip the foil and pile all of the naked cobs of corn in the slow cooker. I'll explain it both ways. You decide.
In the husk, not so good. I tried slow cooking ears of corn in the husk (with the silks removed) and didn't like the flavor nearly as much as using the foil method. Although I think corn ears with husks left intact work well for grilling or oven roasting, they're not as good in the slow cooker. The earthy flavor of the husks overpowers the sweet corn flavor. It's also kind of a mess to eat them; the husks get moist as they steam in the crock pot making them hot and messy to remove. So, my recommendation is to husk and remove the silks from the corn ears before slow cooking them. That way as soon as they're cooked, the cobs of corn are ready to eat--no additional cleaning or fussing required. In fact, you can serve them right out of the slow cooker, if you like.

Step-by-step photos for making
Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob (using foil)
 
Assemble these supplies and ingredients: 
  • A slow cooker. I have 2 models. My favorite is an oval-shaped 6.5 qt. programmable Crock Pot.
  • Aluminum foil for wrapping individual ears of corn. Pre-cut aluminum foil sheets are convenient and can be found at many grocery stores, in big boxes at Costco and Sams, and on Amazon.
  • Ears of corn, husked and silk removed; how many you cook depends on the size of your slow cooker. I can fit 8 to 10 ears in my crock pot. The ears can be cut in half to make them fit better or for smaller portions.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (I use sea salt)
  • Pepper, freshly ground preferred
  • Seasonings for added flavors (explained in detail below): fresh herbs, chili powder, ground cumin, lime juice, Sriracha, pesto, curry powder, coconut milk
  • Holders for cobs of corn. These make it much tidier to eat corn on the cob. They also keep your fingers from burning from the spiciness of  Sriracha corn ears and prevent yellow fingers from the Curry corn ears.
view on Amazon: 
Monica's Crock Pot (rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated), 
pre-cut aluminum sheets
Oxo salt & pepper grinderscorn holders
    CornOnTheCob
    How to make
    Sea Salt & Pepper Corn on the Cob 
    This is the "basic" recipe for plain, yet flavorful, corn-on-the cob. It's my healthy substitute for the traditional buttered kind. I'll explain 5 more seasoning options after this one.
    Step 1. Place a corn ear in the center of a sheet of foil, brush it all over with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt.
    view on Amazon:  silicone pastry brush (works great and dishwasher safe)
    CornOnTheCob
    Step 2. Tightly wrap the corn ear in the foil. The photos below illustrate how to get a tight leak-proof seal. Pull up the two sides of foil over the center of the corn ear (lengthwise), fold over the top approx. 1/2 inch, continue folding it over until the fold is flattened against the top of the corn. Pinch in the foil on each end and roll it up towards the cob end.
    CornOnTheCob
    Step 3. Place the foil wrapped cobs of corn, seam side up, inside the slow cooker. No need to add any water. Cover. Here are the cooking times for my slow cooker. For 4-6 ears with the slow cooker approx. 3/4 full, cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. For 8-10 ears with the slow cooker filled all the way to the top, cook on high for 3 hours and on low for 5 hours.
    • NOTE: these are approximate times; slow cookers can vary widely in how hot and quickly they cook. So, you may need to make adjustments. If your slow cooker has a warm setting, you can hold the corn on warm for at least an hour after it is cooked.
    The result of this simple method with light seasonings is moist, sweet, and flavorful. It tastes so great that I don't even miss the butter.
    CornOnTheCob
    More seasoning combinations. It's easy to customize corn on the cob to complement a variety of meals. You can make a bunch with the same seasonings, or make a variety of combinations. Since they're tightly sealed in foil, the different flavors stay contained and won't migrate to each other when they are cooked together. Here are some of my favorite seasonings. 
    I don't give exact measurements of seasonings, because the amounts are so small that they aren't easily measurable. Hopefully, my photos can give you an idea of how much to season them. The truth is the seasonings don't have to be precise--brush, drizzle and sprinkle a moderate amount and you should be good.
    Chili Lime Corn on the Cob
    Brush the corn ears with olive oil and season with salt and pepper as explained above. Squeeze on some lime juice (a lime half has enough juice for 2-3 cobs), sprinkle with some chili powder (hot or mild according to your preference) and a smidgen of ground cumin. These make a great complement to Mexican meals.
    CornOnTheCob
    Fresh Herb Corn on the Cob
    Brush the corn ears with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Chop and sprinkle them with any fresh herb you like. Here, I'm adding fresh dill to mine. I used kitchen shears and snipped the dill right onto the corn. Other fresh herbs that are good by themselves or in combination: thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, oregano, and basil.
    CornOnTheCob
    Curry Coconut Corn on the Cob
    Brush the corn ears with coconut milk (instead of olive oil) and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on curry powder and a smidgen of garlic powder. Delish!
    view on Amazon: coconut milk (I use the canned kind often found in the Asian aisle of grocery stores)
    CornOnTheCob
    Pesto Corn on the Cob
    Pesto already has olive oil and seasonings, so there's no need to add those. It's ready to use just as it is. You can use store-bought pesto, but it's easy and tastier to make your own. (Here's my pesto recipe. When basil is abundant in my garden, I make pesto ahead and freeze it to use throughout the year.) To season the corn, simply spread it with pesto and it's ready to wrap and cook. Easy and SO flavorful. I love this one. What a great complement to an Italian meal!
    CornOnTheCob
    Sriracha Corn on the Cob
    This is another sauce that has all of the flavor and seasoning in it that you need. If you're not familiar with Sriracha, it is a very spicy Asian hot sauce. It's not for the faint of heart. I only recommend this seasoning for those who enjoy really spicy food (like me). Simply spread some of the sauce on the corn, wrap, and cook. If you accidentally squeeze too much of the sauce on (I did that), you can wipe off the excess with a paper towel until you have the desired amount of sauce on your corn. A word of warning...when you touch the cooked Sriracha cobs of corn, the hot spice can make your fingers burn; so you may want to use corn holders to avoid touching them while you eat. Your lips may burn, too, but that's part of the fun. I personally love these super spicy cobs of corn, but they aren't for everyone.
    view on Amazon:  Srirachacorn holders
    CornOnTheCob
    Make ahead tip for foil wrapped corn:  The day before, you can husk and clean the corn, season it, wrap the ears in foil, and refrigerate them overnight. The next day, move the refrigerated corn directly to the slow cooker and add 30-60 min. to the cooking time to allow extra time for the cold corn to heat up.
    For grilling and baking too! The foil-wrapped ears can also be grilled over medium-high heat for approx. 20 minutes, rotating them periodically. Or, bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for approx. 30 min. 

    How to makeSlow Cooker Corn on the Cob (without foil)
    This method works well and is an easy way to cook and serve a big batch of corn on the cob without using foil. The results aren't quite as moist as the foil method, but it's still very tasty. It takes about an hour longer for the corn to cook. Here's how to do it.
    Brush the cobs of corn with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Brush the inside of the crock pot with olive oil (or use cooking spray). Pour 1/4 cup water in the bottom of the crock pot and add the corn. Cover and cook. Here are the cooking times for my slow cooker. For 4-6 ears with the slow cooker approx. 3/4 full, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. For 8-10 ears with the slow cooker filled all the way to the top, cook on high for 4 hours and on low for 6 hours. As with the foil method, these times are approximate; you may need to make adjustments for your slow cooker.
    CornOnTheCob
    Without or without foil, slow cooking is a healthy, easy way to make corn on the cob. 
    Make it a Yummy day!Monica 
    You might also like this recipe:
    Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
    Corn on the Cob in a Slow Cooker
    By Monica              Servings: 6-10 ears of corn
    Ingredients
    • 6-10 ears of corn, husked and silks removed (the number of ears depends on size of slow cooker)
    • FOR SEASONING (see directions for suggested combinations):
    • olive oil
    • sea salt
    • pepper
    • chili powder
    • ground cumin
    • fresh lime juice
    • fresh herbs (dill, thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, oregano, or basil)
    • curry powder
    • coconut milk (canned)
    • pesto
    • Sriracha sauce (or other hot chili sauce)
    Directions
    FOIL METHOD:
    Tear/cut pieces of foil big enough to wrap individual ears of corn. Put an ear of corn in middle of foil. Add seasonings (see suggestions below). Wrap corn tightly in foil. Place in dry slow cooker, seam side up & cover. Approx. cooking times: for 4-6 ears with the slow cooker approx. 3/4 full, cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. For 8-10 ears with the slow cooker filled all the way to the top, cook on high for 3 hours and on low for 5 hours.* 

    NO FOIL METHOD: Season ears of corn (see seasoning suggestions below). Brush inside of slow cooker with olive oil or coat with cooking spray. Add seasoned ears of corn to slow cooker and cover. Approx. cooking times: For 4-6 ears with the slow cooker approx. 3/4 full, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. For 8-10 ears with the slow cooker filled all the way to the top, cook on high for 4 hours and on low for 6 hours.*

    *NOTE: these are approximate times; slow cookers can vary in size, and how hot and quickly they cook. Cooking times may need to be adjusted accordingly. 

    SEASONING SUGGESTIONS to add to corn before cooking.
    --Sea Salt & Pepper: Brush corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    --Chili Lime: Brush corn ears with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lime juice (a lime half has enough juice for 2-3 ears), sprinkle with chili powder (hot or mild according to your preference) and a smidgen of ground cumin.
    --Fresh Herbs: Brush corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop a fresh herb or combination of herbs and sprinkle on corn.
    --Curry Coconut: Brush corn with coconut milk (instead of olive oil) and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on curry powder and a smidgen of garlic powder.
    --Pesto: Spread corn with prepared pesto. (no additional seasoning is needed)
    --Sriracha: Spread corn with Sriracha or other hot chili sauce. (no additional seasoning is needed)

    MAKE AHEAD TIP FOR FOIL WRAPPED CORN: The day before, you can husk and clean the corn, season it, wrap the ears in foil, and refrigerate them overnight. The next day, move the refrigerated corn directly to the slow cooker and add 30-60 min. to the cooking time to allow extra time for the cold corn to heat up.

    GRILLING OR BAKING OPTION: The foil-wrapped ears can also be grilled over medium-high heat for approx. 20 minutes, rotating them periodically. Or, bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for approx. 30 min.