August 18, 2013

Corn on the Cob #4 (Grilled)

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If your want your corn dressed to impress, grilling is the way to go. But first, here’s what not to do: Grill a bare ear of corn. Sure, it will be ready in 30, with some smoky, nicely charred bits. But it will also be dry and chewy. I always grill corn in the husk. This traps steam, leaving the kernels juicy but not mushy, and moistens the silk, so it pulls off effortlessly in clumps. If you must see more charring, grill the corn a bit longer or briefly return the stripped ears to the grill. I slather my corn with compound butter, flavoured oil or glaze, or go all out with delightfully messy Mexican Street Corn. This basic recipe calls for 4 ears of corn, but of course you can make any number you like.

4 ears corn
1/4 cup (60 mL) compound butter, flavoured oil or glaze (optional)
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Snip exposed cornsilk and ragged ends of husks hanging off top of each ear. Pull off dark green, outer layers of husks until you reach tender, moist, light to medium green husks. (If you see the contours of kernels through husks, you’ve gone too far.) Leave on stem, to use as handle. Using kitchen twine, tie top of each ear of corn 2 inches (5 cm) below tip.

Place corn in large container. Cover with cold water. Weigh down to keep submerged. Soak 30 to 60 minutes, until husks are wet enough not to catch fire on grill.

Preheat barbecue on medium.

Drain corn, then shake to get rid of excess water. Place on grate over direct heat, with thicker ends facing centre. Cover and grill 20 to 30 minutes, until silhouettes of kernels are visible, husks are lightly charred, and corn has slight give when pressed.

Cool 5 minutes, or until easier to handle. Holding each ear of corn at stem, pull down husks and discard clumps of cornsilk. Leave on husks as decorative tail/handle. Using damp paper towel, rub cornsilk off kernels.

Optional: Create char marks. Return ears of corn to barbecue on high heat, making sure husk “tails” hang outside of edge of barbecue so they don’t blacken, disintegrate or catch on fire. Grill, uncovered and turning as needed, 2 to 4 minutes, until lightly charred.

Coat ears of corn with compound butter, flavoured oil or glaze (if desired). Sprinkle with salt and pepper (if desired).

Makes 4 servings.

  • Grilling time will depend on the size and freshness of the corn.
  • Compound butter is the culinary name for butter mixed with herbs and/or spices. Flavoured oil is infused – for example, one of my faves is basil oil.

Kitchen Secrets: Soaking the corn helps it cook evenly without blackening too much. (See: Wet Ears.) I tie the tops to keep the husks from pulling away from the kernels at the tips.

Oh No: When prepping the corn, stripping back the husks, pulling off the silk, rinsing, then pulling the husk back over the kernels is a bunch of unnecessary work advocated in some recipes. So is rubbing the ears with flavoured butter, then rewrapping them in their husks – the butter will inevitably leak out onto the grate.


Italian Grilled Corn
After grilling, slather each ear of corn with 1 tbsp (15 mL) garlic-herb butter. Then sprinkle and pat on 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely grated dry parmesan.