Friday, July 30, 2010

Grilled Corn on the Cob

It's summer, which here in the midwest means that the sweet corn is ready to eat! July through September, you can pass any street corner or gas station and pass a teenager in a pickup selling bags of sweet corn on the cob. There's just nothing like a freshly-picked ear of corn covered in butter and salt and pepper.

My favorite way to experience corn on the cob is straight from the grill. Shucking raw corn is not on my top 10 list of favorite things to do. It's tedious, the silks get everywhere, and once in a while you'll get that one ear that's already being eaten by bugs. Eew.

But buying corn already shucked is the lazy man's way out. Shucking corn causes it to lose both taste and moisture. And it seems nearly impossible to get a set cooking time on how long to boil ears of corn for. Is it 5 minutes? 10? 15?

But grilling corn is a wholenother story. Once the husk is dark and charred, it peels away easily and the silks brush right off. The husks allow the cob to baste deliciously in butter. And you get that tasty grilled flavor that is featured so prominently in cooking magazines throughout the summer.

Grab a stick of butter and leave it out to soften. If you keep your butter in the freezer like I do, you can slowly microwave it in 5-10 second increments until it's softened but not melted.

Select two nicely sized garlic cloves and a bunch of fresh parsley. Chop them up together until the cloves and leaves are finely minced and intermingled into a cream-and-green paste.

Combine the paste and the butter and add large amounts of salt and pepper (it will look like a lot, but keep in mind you're seasoning 5 ears of corn). I also throw in a little smoked paprika sometimes. This time I forgot. Oops. At this point you could add some Parmesan cheese too, if that floats your boat.

Grab the corn and gently pull back the husks (don't pull them all the way off, you'll be replacing them in a second.)

Rub the ears all over with the butter mixture. When your ear is suitably buttery, pull the husks back so they're covering the corn again. You can tie the ends of the husks with string, or, if you've got them, silicone bands.

Things made of silicone are amazing. Dishwasher, microwave, oven, and grill-safe. And completely reusable. I use these when I roast chickens, to tie the legs together.

If you do happen to accidentally rip the husk all the way off, tie it back on as best you can.

Fill a large container or sink with water, and soak the corn husks for at least 20 minutes. This will help keep your corn from catching fire, help the corn steam, and also prevent the kernels of corn from getting too hot and popping. Nothing is as uncool as sporting burn marks from corn.

You can use this time to turn your grill on (or get the charcoal started.) You'll want a medium heat for this.

Once your corn is soaked and your grill is heated, all you've got left is to cook your corn. Toss it on and grill for 20 minutes. Be sure to rotate the ears or you'll end up with a burned side.

After your corn is cooked, pull back the husks and gnaw away. If you want to pretend you're at the state fair, grab some paper towels and wrap it around the pulled back husks. If you really want to pretend you're at the state fair, melt a bucket's worth of butter and dip your corn into it and chase it with some cheese curds and a fried Twinkie. Maybe a beer. I won't tell.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
5 ears of sweet corn, unshucked
1 stick of butter, softened
1 handful of parsley, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine butter, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Pull back the corn husks to reveal kernels. Spread butter mixture over the ear of corn and then replace husks. Tie the husks to keep the ears covered.

Soak husks in water for 20 minutes to prevent burning.

Grill corn for 20 minutes over medium heat, turning frequently.

Pull back husks and enjoy.

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