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story.lead_photo.caption Elote Salad, photographed Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

It's getting so you can't take a step without treading on an ear or two of corn.

That's a good thing. Of all the wonders that the Americas have given to the world, perhaps corn is the most wondrous of them all.

We won't fault you if you want to make a case for tomatoes. But right now, with corn as high as an elephant's eye, and far more abundant, we'll pick the sweet yellow (or white) goodness of corn.

Unimportant but interesting digression: Corn always has an even number of rows of kernels. Also, there is one piece of silk for each kernel.

You can boil your corn on the cob, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with it. You can soak it in water and cook it on the grill, and you can even microwave it — it makes the silk easy to remove but just a little rubbery.

But I am here today to proselytize on behalf of corn that is cut off the cob and roasted in a pan.

Pan-roasted corn is a special kind of delicious. Cooking the kernels in a pan concentrates their flavor, making it just a little sweeter, but also adds deeper, lower and earthier notes to the taste.

Plus, the corn is flecked with lovely brown spots. It never hurts to add a little visual appeal.

I decided to create four distinctly different recipes using pan-roasted corn — though two are actually kind of similar. That's my fault. But they both stem from the same idea: Corn mixed with cream is sublime. Especially when the corn has been roasted in a pan.

I began with an entrée that is worthy of serving to company but is quick and easy enough to make on a weeknight. I call it Chicken with Roasted Corn Sauce, the name does not do it credit. Recipe names are hard.

The sauce is actually made with Dijon mustard, cream and white wine (but that's too many words to put into the title). Dijon cream sauce is a classic with chicken, and I just added corn for an additional irresistible layer of deliciousness.

The sauce requires whipping cream (any lighter cream cannot be simmered), so it is quite rich. It's not an everyday dish, but if you want to splurge it is definitely the way to go.

Just don't say it has a creamed-corn sauce. It may be technically true, but it just sounds too inelegant.

For the other dish using a creamed-corn sauce, I put it on penne pasta. The biggest difference between the chicken dish and Pasta With Corn and Cream, other than the lack of chicken, is the ingredient that provides the bass note to the sauce.

Unlike the chicken dish, which makes exquisite use of Dijon mustard, the pasta dish is more rustic in its reliance on onions. Sautéing onions brings out their subtle sweetness, which is what makes Pasta With Corn and Cream so delectable.

The other two pan-roasted corn dishes I made were inspired by the flavors of Mexico.

The best-known street food south of the border is elote, grilled corn on the cob that is slathered with a mixture of mayonnaise and queso fresco cheese and sprinkled with spices.

I thought, why not take that off the cob and pan-roast the corn? And then why not serve it on lettuce, as a salad?

The result was magical. Lettuce turns out to be just what elote needs, a cool, contrasting flavor that takes just enough of the edge off the spice. Also, the lettuce makes it seem a little healthier.

I also decided to make a salsa but not just any salsa. Because the corn was pan-roasted, I decided also to pan-roast the other vegetables. This extra step made the salsa's flavor more mellow and easy-going.

It was still hot, because I like my salsa hot. If you do not, simply remove the pepper's seeds and pith, and you can always use less pepper.

All good salsa is addictive. With the roasted vegetables and the addition of the roasted corn, this version is more addictive than most.

It just became one of my favorite salsas ever.

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CHICKEN WITH ROASTED CORN SAUCE

Yield: 4 servings

1 ear of corn

2 teaspoons butter

(2/3 tablespoon), divided

1 garlic clove, mashed

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup whipping cream, see note

Salt and pepper

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked, see note.

Note: If you use cream with less butterfat than whipping or heavy cream, be sure to keep it from simmering or boiling.

Cook chicken by either poaching or braising it. To poach, place chicken in just enough water to cover, bring to a simmer and cook until done, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts. To braise, sear chicken on both sides in 1/2 tablespoon of butter or oil in a skillet, add 1/2 cup water, lower to a simmer, cover and cook until done, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size. If liquid evaporates before done, add more water.

1. Remove the kernels from the corn. Melt 1 teaspoon (1/3 tablespoon) butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add corn and cook, stirring frequently, until kernels develop small brown spots, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan (or the same clean skillet), melt the remaining 1 teaspoon (1/3 tablespoon) butter over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and mustard and stir until thoroughly combined. Simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated.

3. Add cream and reserved corn. If using whipping or heavy cream, simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. If using a lighter cream, cook without simmering for 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice chicken crosswise and spoon sauce over to serve.

Per serving: 310 calories; 12 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 164 mg cholesterol; 6 g protein; 38 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 168 mg sodium; 20 mg calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman

PASTA WITH CORN AND CREAM

Yield: 4 servings

1 ear of corn

1 tablespoon butter, divided

1/4 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

8 ounces penne pasta

1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream, see note

8 basil leaves

Note: This recipe calls for the cream to boil, so do not use any lighter cream than whipping or heavy cream.

1. Put on water to boil for pasta.

2. Cut kernels from ear of corn. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently, until kernels have small brown spots, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a saucepan or the same clean skillet, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine, chicken stock and tomatoes and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, start to cook the pasta.

4. Add cream to the mixture, bring to a boil, reduce temperature and simmer until thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in the corn. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

5. Serve over cooked pasta with 2 torn basil leaves per serving.

Per serving: 329 calories; 10 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 10 g protein; 51 g carbohydrate; 5 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 70 mg sodium; 29 mg calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman

ELOTE SALAD

Yield: 4 servings

2 ears corn

2 teaspoons butter (2/3 tablespoon)

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 small chicken breasts, cooked, optional

Lettuce

1. Cut the kernels off the corn. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add corn and cook, stirring frequently, until most kernels have small brown spots, about 20 minutes.

2. Mix together the corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, cayenne and lime juice. If using, cut the chicken into small pieces.

3. Place 4 portions of lettuce on plates. If using chicken, place on lettuce. Top with corn mixture.

Per serving: 368 calories; 19 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 127 mg cholesterol; 36 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 6 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 257 mg sodium; 8 mg calcium

ROASTED CORN SALSA

Yield: 14 servings (3 1/2 cups)

2 ears of corn

1 teaspoon (1/3 tablespoon) butter

1 tablespoon oil

2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered

1 onion, peeled, root removed and quartered

1 jalapeo, stem removed and quartered, see note

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Note: For a hot salsa, keep the jalapeo's seeds and pith. For a somewhat milder salsa, remove the seeds and pith. For mild salsa, do not use the jalapeo.

1. Cut kernels off the cob. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring frequently, until the kernels develop small brown spots, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the tomatoes, onions and jalapeo (if using). Cook, turning frequently, until vegetables are softened and colored, and the tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes.

3. Place tomatoes, onions and jalapeo in blender with the salt and lime juice. Blend briefly until chunky. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in reserved corn and cilantro.

Per serving: 37 calories; 2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 1 g protein; 6 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 171 mg sodium; 6 mg calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman

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©2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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