Cornutopia

CornutopiaMain
Photo by Susan Whitney.

Cornutopia

8 corn purée ice cubes (recipe below)
1 standard ice cube
2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
2 oz milk
1.25 oz peach & tarragon shrub (recipe below)

Blend ingredients on high until no chunks remain. Serve in 10 oz glass.

Garnish with peach slice and sprig of tarragon.


As Labor Day approaches and summer draws to a close, I cling to the fresh peaches and corn soon surrendering their spots at the farmer’s market to apples and pumpkins. Peaches in my yogurt every morning. Corn on the cob. Salads with peaches, corn, avocado and a balsamic and fig vinaigrette. I’m insatiable.

So, why not a cocktail?

I’ve been toying with the idea of mixing corn with bourbon, a corn-based spirit (never meta cocktail I didn’t like. Ba-dum-ching). And, since I love both peaches and tarragon with corn, I decide to put them together in a shrub, a mixture of fruit juice, sugar, acid and sometimes alcohol developed in part as a means of extending the shelf life of fruit in the days before refrigeration (Thank you, Michael Dietsch).

To make the shrub, I slightly modified Dietsch’s Peach-Ginger Shrub recipe, which, given my plan for the rest of my cocktail, is blessedly simple. I remove the pits from one pound of peaches and cut them into 1″ cubes, then I mash them with 1 cup of sugar and 0.5 ounces of fresh tarragon. I cover the mixture, refrigerate it overnight, then push it through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl, discarding the solids. Next, I whisk in 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar, then funnel the mixture into clean bottles which I seal and place in the refrigerator where they will mellow after a couple of weeks and keep for several months.

CornutopiaDetail
Photo by Susan Whitney.

Now, how to incorporate the corn? I start by husking four ears of sweet corn, boiling them for 10 minutes, then setting them aside to cool. I retain 6 cups of the cooking water. Next, I cut the ears in half, cut off the kernels and slide them into my  Vitamix. I bring the retained cooking water and trimmed corn cobs to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, with the point of creating intensely corny water, which I then strain into the blender. I blend the corn kernels, corn water and a pinch of salt on high until they are puréed, then strain the purée through a chinois, pushing out as much liquid as possible. I’m left with 2 2/3 cups of corny goodness, which I pour into standard ice cube trays, cover and place in the freezer.

Fast forward five days. I pull out my blender and throw in 8 corn cubes, 2 ounces of Four Roses Bourbon (made from a 75% corn mash), 1/2 ounce of peach tarragon shrub and 2 ounces of milk and blend until smooth. I taste and find it a bit too, well, corny – and thin. I add another ice cube and more shrub, 1/4 ounce at a time, until I hit the balance I’m looking for — 1.25 ounces. Although that might seem like too much, I find it necessary to move the drink from Polenta City to Piña Colada Town.

So, if you’re not hitting the highway this Labor Day weekend, consider heading to the farmer’s market to pick up some peaches and corn and cook yourself up a delicious and novel cocktail. Just don’t wait until Monday to get started.


Corn Purée Ice Cubes Recipe

4 ears of corns
1 pinch of salt

1. Husk four ears of sweet corn.
2. Boil them for 10 minutes, then set them aside to cool. Retain 6 cups of the cooking water.
3. Cut the ears in half, cut off the kernels and slide them into a blender.
4. Bring the retained cooking water and trimmed corn cobs to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, creating intensely corn-flavored water.
5. Strain cooking water into the blender.
6. Blend corn kernels, corn water and a pinch of salt on high until puréed.
7. Strain puree through a chinois, pushing out as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
8. Pour the strained purée into standard ice cube trays, cover and slide into the freezer.

Makes about 20 ice cubes.


Peach & Tarragon Shrub Recipe

1 pound ripe peaches
1 cup sugar
1 cup white balsamic vinegar

1. Remove the pits from peaches and cut them into 1″ cubes.
2. Mash peaches with 1 cup of sugar and 0.5 ounces of fresh tarragon
3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. Push mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl, discarding the solids.
5. Whisk in 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar.
6. Funnel mixture into clean bottles.
7. Seal bottles and place them in the refrigerator where they will mellow after a couple of weeks and keep for several months.

 

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