Say So Long to Summer with Skillet Corn

The grande dame of Southern cooking, the late Edna Lewis declared summertime to be nothing without boiled corn. Taking it one step further, summertime is nothing without corn, period. Juicy and sweet, this is the time when corn is at its peak. You don't hear much about it, but corn rocks our bodies, too.

Often dismissed as simply starchy and high in fiber, those little corn kernels pack health benefits beyond the obvious, including antioxidant phytonutrients (naturally occurring plant compounds) which interact and stabilize free radicals. Different colors of corn actually deliver different combos of phytonutrients. Corn's also high in Vitamin C, a good source of heart-healthy niacin and folate, and has energy-producing Vitamin B5.

Antioxidants aside, the taste is what has given fried corn its special place at Southern-style tables. My all-time favorite is a simple dish with sweet corn kernels scraped from the cob, freshly-chopped onions, tender green bell pepper, and a touch of bacon. Sometimes, I like to toss in shrimp for a meal-in-one testimony to fried corn's versatility.

Many truly Southern recipes fry the corn in bacon drippings. Tasty as these drippings can be, they pack a saturated-fat punch. Since my mission is to eat deliciously and tend to my health at the same time, I had to find a way to grab the flavor and nix the fat. I solved it by chopping naturally-leaner center cut bacon, cooking it slowly to release as much fat as possible, then pouring the drippings out of the skillet and tossing them.

A huge departure from the fried corn of my "transplant-from-the-South" childhood where the corn fried away in those drippings, the little traces of drippings left hanging out in my drained skillet are enough to give a hint of bacon-y flavor to the next thing to hit the pan while adding just a smidgen of fat. Since there aren't enough drippings in the skillet to actually fry the corn, I toss the corn and other veggies in a little corn oil which puts the oil right where I need it - on the vegetables instead of in the pan. My way bumps up the corn flavor, lets me use a lot less oil which cuts back on the calories and saturated fat, and adds good-for-you polyunsaturated fats.

Scrumptious and healthful, these Skillet Corn recipes are the best of both worlds. The corn is nice and caramely-sweet from the patient frying and stirring while sprinkling the crispy bacon over the sweet corn medley makes bacon's "yum" factor pop. Simple Skillet Corn makes a perfect side dish for grilled chicken or salmon. or pair Skillet Corn with Spicy Shrimp with your favorite green salad and your summertime dinner's ready.