Milking the Corn

On Monday’s at our local Albertsons they have “Cheap Chicken,” which is 4 legs and 4 thighs for $4.95. Last Monday we got some and along with it bought some fresh corn, which was selling for 5 ears for $3. Two meals later, we still have half the chicken left. Last night with 3 ears of corn left over, we decided to make Corn Chowder. The corn was already cooked, so I just cut the kernels off. Then I remembered from somewhere (I think it was Alton Brown) talking about “milking the corn.” Essentially this is the act of running the back of the knife blade down the denuded corn cob to get the rest of the bits of corn and corn “liquor.” I did this and it returned a surprising amount of material. When we proceeded to make the chowder, I added the milked bits to the pot. Well, it made a big difference in the finished product. I can only describe it as being “more corn-y” – a more pronounced corn flavor. We will do this every time we make corn chowder from now on.

Here is the recipe we used.


Author: Jim Kirkley

Toasting the corn is the critical step in this recipe. It adds depth and flavor.

Serves: 6

Corn Chowder


2 tablespoons, butter
3 ears, corn – cooked
4 slices, bacon – diced small
1 medium, onion – diced small
1 cup, milk
3 cups, chicken stock
1 large, baking potato – cut in 1/2″ cubes
kosher salt – to taste
ground pepper – to taste


  1. Carefully slice kernels of corn off the cob. Save the kernels.
  2. Holding the knife perpendicular to the cob, slide the back of blade down the cob, removing bits of kernels and liquid. This is called milking the corn.
  3. In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter on medium-high heat.
  4. Add only the corn kernels and cook until nicely browned. They will start to pop like popcorn, when they do they are done.
  5. Remove corn from pan and set aside.
  6. In the same pan add bacon and onion.
  7. When bacon becomes limp add roasted corn back to pan.
  8. Continuing cooking until bacon is cooked, but not crispy.
  9. Drain fat.
  10. Add “corn liquor,” potatoes and enough chicken stock to cover potatoes. Cook until potatoes are al dente.
  11. Add milk to potato mixture and bring to a boil.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Instead of toasting the corn, you may use a 16 ounce bag of frozen roasted corn from Trader Joes.


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