Creamy Corn Bucatini with Corn Ricotta and Basil
Why This Recipe Works
by Sasha Marx
Making ricotta is once of the coolest, simplest processes around—take milk, heat it, add acid, let it sit, strain it, and boom: ricotta. But we like playing around in the kitchen, and after some experimentation, we found that you can impart quite a bit of additional flavor to ricotta using relatively few and humble ingredients. For this recipe we wanted to use sweet corn as both a purée for a pasta sauce and as a flavoring agent for a ricotta that would be later folded into that sauce. We found that these two processes work very well with sweet corn due to some of its inherent properties. Corn kernels contain naturally occurring cornstarch, which thickens into a pasta-coating sauce if heated above 150 degrees F/65 degrees C. At the same time, as Harold McGee notes, “heating also intensifies the characteristic aroma of corn, which is largely due to dimethyl sulfide, [which is] also prominent in the aroma of cooked milk.” Put another way: corn ricotta doesn’t just taste more like corn, it also tastes more like milk. And that’s a delicious win-win.