This rather quirky side dish from across the pond is great with Southern-style barbecue. It might seem an odd combination of ingredients, but do try it – you won’t be disappointed. Fresh corn is a necessity; canned or frozen corn has neither the taste nor the texture required. (You can use frozen if you are desperate, but do remember that it is already cooked and allow it to defrost naturally rather than boiling any remaining life out of it.)

Although it is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s the saffron that really makes this dish and you should use this golden opportunity to gain a few converts. Despite what the Spanish will tell you, the best saffron comes from Iran. If you can’t find it at any of your local Middle Eastern shops, try eBay. My elder son Harry buys some of the finest and most strongly flavoured saffron I have ever come across here, plus there’s the added bonus of picturing the faces of the customs officials who have to deal with a strange-smelling parcel covered in Iranian stamps…

  • 1.5kg potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish (2.5cm) pieces
  • The kernels cut from 4 fresh, raw corn cobs
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 150ml single cream, or an oat or almond alternative
  • 50g butter or hard margarine (Tomor type)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil for frying
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground white pepper
  • A large pinch of whole saffron threads or ¼ teaspoon of saffron powder, steeped in 2 tablespoons of warm water while the corn is frying

  • To remove the kernels from the corn cobs, turn a small bowl upside down and place it in the bottom of a larger bowl. Resting the corn cob vertically on top of the inverted small bowl, you can cut down the length of the corn cobs with a sharp knife, removing the kernels without scattering them all over the kitchen.
  • Melt 25g of the butter or margarine with a similar amount of olive oil in a pan, and, when it begins to sizzle, add the onion and corn kernels.
  • Fry over a medium heat until the corn starts to brown and then add the chilli and garlic. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper and continue to fry for two more minutes.
  • Add 75ml of the cream and the saffron with the water it was steeped in. Bring back up to a boil before removing the pan from the heat and setting it aside to cool.
  • This corn mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to two days or it can be frozen for a barbecue at a later date.
  • Boil the cubed potatoes in salted water until they are cooked through and soft, drain, and return them to the pan to dry over a medium heat for 20 – 30 seconds.
  • Mash the potatoes with the remaining 25g of butter or margarine and 75ml of cream until they are smooth, adding salt and plenty of white pepper to taste.
  • Heat up the corn mixture and, when hot, add it to the mashed potato and stir it in thoroughly.
  • Keep it warm until you are ready to serve – this allows all of the flavours to infuse into the mashed potato.
  • Saffron corn mash goes brilliantly with pretty much anything barbecued, but do try it with my barbecue short ribs.

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