Corn and Blueberries: Summer BFF
Corn and blueberries are the Laverne and Shirley of summer produce. Two of the season's most beloved and eagerly awaited ingredients are perpetual plate playmates, popping up in dishes both sweet and savory, morning through night. As both ingredients hit their summery stride, here's a look at some don't-you-dare-miss-them blueberry-corn dishes around Chicago.
Start your day off right with a hefty plate of corny blueberry pancakes at The Gage. It all starts out with blue corn pancakes, imbued with all the standard goodness such as milk, eggs, butter, love, etc. As sous chef Pete Coenan explains, the cornmeal gives the pancakes a nice texture and a bold corn flavor, not to mention a slightly purple-ish hue. The syrup is where the fruit comes in, and it hits in a big way. Vermont maple syrup is steeped with fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and oranges, and when drizzled over the violet-y pancakes, it pops with more color than the entire roster of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And because why not, the pancakes are finished with a mixture of whipped cream and mascarpone, and sprinkled with some powdered sugar. Tada!
(Pancakes at The Gage)
Come dinnertime, you're likely hankering for blueberries and corn with a side of foie gras, right? Then get thee to The Lobby for chef Lee Wolen's new corn-blueberry creation. Using produce from Seedling Orchard, Wolen purees the berries, retaining some to serve raw and some pickled. For the corn components, he serves up some freeze-dried corn and a savory corn cookie. Along with the foie gras, corn, and blueberries, the dish is bedecked with basil salt, fresh basil, and brioche. What Wolen likes about the flavor medley is how the sweetness from the raw berries, the acid from the pickled berries, and the crunch from the corn cookies meld well together, providing apt balance for the rich foie gras.
(Foie gras, corn, and blueberries at The Lobby)
For dessert, Patrick Fahy fuses blueberries and corn into one killer tart at Sixteen. It all starts with the cornmeal tart, which he makes using Three Sisters cornmeal. He cooks down blueberries from Seedling Orchard and Mick Klug Farm with brown sugar and lemon to make a jam, then lines the bottom of the tart shell with it. He covers the jam with frangipane, then bakes it until golden brown. To finish, the tart is crowned with a mound of fresh blueberries and a quenelle of sweet corn ice cream, using corn from Nichols Farm. "It's a great match because of the sweetness of the blueberries, and the sweet buttery corn flavor," says Fahy. "I make sure I add extra salt to the sweet corn ice cream, so it really enhances the flavor and it's spot on with the sweet acidic blueberry flavors."
Here are some bonus treats you need to eat: blueberry cornbread topped with braised short rib, blueberry jus, and tri-colored corn salad at Stout Barrel House & Galley, and braised pork belly with blueberry glaze and lobster-corn ragout at Epic.