Tarragon Corn

Recently I had the privilege of dining with one of my favorite food bloggers, Carol Blymire, who after cooking her way through the French Laundry cookbook and blogging about it, is tackling an even more absurdly wonderful but complicated project with her blog Alinea at Home. Hank, his girlfriend Holly and I met up with Carol at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, north of Napa. One of my favorite dishes of the evening was a simple side in which corn kernels had been slowly cooked in butter and Pernod and tossed with fresh tarragon. This is my attempt to recreate the dish and I think we’ve come pretty close. With all the fresh tarragon growing in my garden I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that would use it well. Who knew corn and tarragon were such a perfect match? The tarragon just seems to make the corn taste more exquisitely sweet, without being overbearing.

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Tarragon Corn Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 3-4.

Regarding the anise liqueur the recipe calls for, I think it's a nice touch, but not necessary. You'll get enough of the flavor with the tarragon if you are avoiding alcohol or don't have an anise liqueur on hand.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (can sub onions)
  • 3 cups corn (from about 4 ears of corn)*
  • 1 Tbsp of an anise liqueur such as Ouzo, Pernod, Pastis or Sambuca (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt if using unsalted butter, more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp packed, minced fresh tarragon
  • Dash of white pepper (or black pepper if white is unavailable)

* If using fresh corn, to remove corn from the cob first remove the husks and strings. Stand the corn up with the tip down in a large shallow pan like a baking dish. Using a sharp chef's knife, use long downward strokes to remove the corn kernels from the cob. You might find it easier to use a bundt pan to hold the ear of corn and catch the kernels. Or you can use a corn stripper.

Method

1 Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.

2 Add the corn, salt, and anise liqueur if using (if not using, add 1 Tbsp water). Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the corn is tender.

3 Remove from heat, stir in the tarragon. Add pepper and more salt to taste.

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11 Comments

  1. rebecca h.

    It really isn’t a combination you would think of, people usually only like tarragon with chicken or eggs, but it’s really good!

    My mum served corn with tarragon butter! She would always serve corn still on the cob and boiled until just tender, and she used to make herb butters and freeze them in ice cube trays put into freezer bags, to use at appropriate meals. Corn always got a plentiful serving of these butter cubes, a random assortment of whatever flavored butter had gone into the freezer. I remember the time, when I was about 14, when it happened to be tarragon butter leftover from a fish dish that I’d hated. But the tarragon butter with corn was so good that we almost always had it that way afterwards, although chili powder butter was also a fave.

    I grow tarragon too and, along with fresh rosemary, a little always goes into my mashed potatoes.

  2. Cooking with Michele

    I just love corn with basil but never thought to try it with tarragon, which grows out of control in my herb garden. BTW, if you have too much growing in your garden, tarragon ice cream is really unusual and good too!

    Oh, what a brilliant idea, thanks! ~Elise

  3. Rachel

    This sounds like perfection. I love tarragon but don’t use it nearly enough. Perhaps I’d throw it in more things if I grew some of my own. Do you find it to be a low maintenance herb?

    Very low maintenance. It doesn’t require much water (in fact you can hurt it by over-watering), and it comes back every summer as long as you don’t pull up the root. ~Elise

  4. Dara

    Ouzo, tarragon, and corn – what an original dish! Leave it to Thomas Keller to come up with something so innovative.

    I think the dish at Bouchon used Pernod if I’m not mistaken. And according to Carol they cook it sous vide. I just like the simple combination of flavors of corn and tarragon. ~Elise

  5. Shannon

    Love, love, love Bouchon! And, Thomas Keller, of course!

    For the 4th of July, we did grilled corn, which I husked and wrapped in foil with a little butter and some tarragon before grilling. Delish! My friends said it was the best grilled corn they had ever had.

  6. NatashasKitchen.com

    I love corn as a side too. Especially corn on the cob. I bet most of those ingredients can be used to make a fantastic corn on the cob too. Shannon, great idea to wrap it in foil. Elise, I had no idea tarragon comes back every year. Thats my kinda plant! I’ll have to put some in the ground some next spring.

  7. Jodi

    The combination sounds wonderful. Just one question: 15-20 minutes for corn? What happened to setting the water to boil while you run out to the garden, pick and quickly husk the corn, then 3 minutes in the pot and it’s done? Is California corn tougher than East Coast corn? I’ve actually eaten it right in the garden, no cooking at all. Or is it because the corn came from a store and so wasn’t all that fresh? Just wondering.

    I haven’t had much luck growing corn, so this corn came from the store. ~Elise

  8. Barbara

    Am not keen on anise. Has anyone tried any other types of liquor or liqueur?

    Tarragon has the same licorice flavor of anise, which is the point of the anise-liqueur. So, if you don’t like anise, you might not like the tarragon either. ~Elise

  9. Naomi

    I used your recipe! It was delicious. I’m not a huge fan of tarragon or anise actually but I had both on hand and they went beautifully with the corn.

  10. Gretchen

    SO glad we made this! The tarragon is such a perfect complement to the taste of the corn. I love when flavors come together making the whole better than the sum of each part.

  11. Erica

    I had a ton of fresh mint leftover from another dish so I used that instead of tarragon (also Vidalia onions) and it was amazing! I had very fresh corn and only cooked it until it was hot – about 3-5 minutes. Love your site.

    Great idea Erica, thanks for the inspiration! ~Elise

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