I’ve bitten into a number of perfectly sweet, bursting kernels of corn over the past weeks as the season crescendos toward its height. During this time of year, many of my Midwestern produce favorites are nearing their prime and excitement mingles with anxiety over how quickly the plump blueberries, juicy peaches and sweet corn will be gone again. Each year, I toy with the idea of buying a deep freezer to preserve the sumptuous glory of late July/early August. Then, I realize I really don’t have the space and instead overbuy at farmer’s markets and stuff my little drawer freezer to the rim with ziplocks bursting with the best.

Last year, I stumbled upon this recipe in an old magazine at the gym. I’m a fan of traditional dry grits so the title caught my eye. It takes a bit of work to cut corn off the cob and use a food processor but it’s worth the effort. This recipe isn’t nearly the same with frozen or canned corn. I’ve doubled the batch and enjoyed leftovers, which makes the extra effort worth it. Smaller servings with one to two large shrimp would make a fantastic first course for a multi-course meal.

If you make the effort to cut corn off the cob, take a little extra time and clean an extra dozen ears or so, freezing a few bags of kernels for a later date to toss into salads or swirl into chowder.

Shrimp and Fresh Sweet Corn Grits with Basil
Found in Women’s Day magazine
Makes 4 servings

6 cups fresh corn kernels cut off the cob
4 slice thick-cut bacon
1 leek (white and light green part only)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
20 large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 pinch smoked paprika

In a food processor, pulse 3 cups corn until almost smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 3 cups and pulse twice just to combine.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes; transfer the leek-bacon mixture to a bowl.

Wipe out the skillet and melt the butter with 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the corn mixture, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the leek-bacon mixture and basil.

In a second large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with the paprika (if using) and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, in a single layer, until golden brown and opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with the corn grits.