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Corn Fritters with Pepper Jack and Arugula
Apr 24th, 2006



I love to go through cookbooks, magazines, and food blogs and mark recipes that I'd like to try later. Due to the fact that I really don't spend my entire life cooking, I end up making only a tiny fraction of these recipes, and sometimes it takes bumping into a recipe more than once to actually get me in the kitchen. This week my CSA delivery included a nice big bag of baby arugula, the first of the season. Arugula doesn't last too long in the fridge, and I really wanted to use it all up before it went bad, so I checked the recipe suggestions included in the box to see if they had a dish that featured arugula. There was a recipe for corn fritters with arugula adapted from Deborah Madison's book about cooking from the farmer's market, Local Flavors. This jogged a memory in my brain as I've read this cookbook a couple times, and when I searched my list of recipes to try I found the original.

The fritters are meant to be made when sweet corn is in season, but I wanted to make them now, so I found some good frozen organic corn kernels and forged ahead. I've blogged corn pankakes here once before, but they were really pancakes studded with corn. These fritters feature the corn and herbs and contain only a very little flour. The original Deborah Madison recipe called for aged cheddar and basil or dill. I decided I wanted to top these with black beans and salsa, so instead went for pepper jack, cilantro, and a pinch of chipotle chili powder. This recipe divides easily into two batches if you want to try two different groups of seasonings. I made one batch plain (no herbs or spices except salt and all cheddar for the cheese) to see if I could get my kids to eat them. No go on that one, although Jay did think they looked good and took one bite, but it did let me see how two different batches behaved in the frying pan. The batch with all the herbs in it didn't stick together nearly as well as the batch with just egg and cheese. I added more flour to it, but after looking at both batches, I think it's the ratio of cheese to other ingredients that really makes the difference. So if you're having trouble keeping your fritters together, try adding a bit more cheddar, that seems more binding than the pepper jack. Patting the ingredients together with a spatula while in the hot oil helps too. And frankly I didn't really care that a few of the first fritters I cooked were in two or three pieces, they tasted great anyway.

When I was searching the web for the original recipe, I came across this review. The author loved the fritters as much as I did, but declared the arugula unnecessary. I respectfully disagree! The peppery greens really bring out the sweetness of the corn and add a freshness and crunch to each bite. I think without them, the fritters would quickly grow overwhelming. The black beans and salsa really round things out and make this a light meal rather than an appetizer, but they truly are optional. I would definitely serve these with some type of spring green however, either all arugula or a mix of fresh greens if that's what you can get your hands on. And by the way if you do make this recipe, a slice of toasted sprouted wheat bread topped with mayo, leftover pepper jack, arugula, and tomato is a fine thing to have for lunch the next day. Especially when you've just spent four hours digging in your sadly neglected garden in the first of the real Seattle sunshine. Arugula and sunshine! It doesn't get much better than that around here.


Corn Fritters with Pepper Jack and Arugula

3 cups corn kernels (scraped from 6 corn cobs if in season)
2 eggs, beaten
4 scallions, including an inch of the greens, finely sliced
cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp shredded cilantro
1 cup grated cheese (Pepper Jack with a little sharp cheddar)
pinch of chipotle chili powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
unsalted butter or oil for frying
3 handfuls arugula, stems trimmed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salsa (I used chipotle corn salsa)


If using corn on the cob, slice the tops of the kernels off the corn, then reverse your knife and press out the milk. Mix the kernels and scrapings with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese, chili, and as much flour as can easily be absorbed. Season with tsp salt and some pepper.

Cover a large plate with the arugula leaves. Heat the beans until just warm but not mushy.

Melt enough butter or heat enough oil to cover a wide skillet generously. Divide the batter roughly into ten pieces and drop into the skillet. Fry over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.

Place the fritters on the bed of arugula, their warmth will wilt the top layer just a bit. When served, each diner can top their arugula and corn fritter with black beans and salsa.

-adapted from Deborah Madison, Local Flavors
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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com