Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Few things in life are as sweet as the first bite into hot, fresh corn on the cob; the crisp bite, the popping sound, the juicy burst, the sweet corn goodness.

Oh my.

My Three Sisters Garden
Corn on the cob (or, rather corn in general) is an icon of the Midwest.  While growing up, every major gathering offered (along with big bowls of chicken booyah stewed for hours in giant barrels) perfectly grilled cobs of sweet corn dunked into [coffee cans full of] melted butter and lightly sprinkled with salt, husks pulled back to make nature's perfect handle. And all was well with the world.

I know that it is hard to find corn that has not been contaminated with GMO field corn, and that is a shame.  However, you can ask around to find a farmer who tries hard to maintain that little piece of much loved Midwestern history, or you can grow your own from heirloom seed (I ordered mine).  It's not hard to grow corn, and it doesn't take up much space; you can fit 12 - 16 stalks of corn in a 4'x4' area, which I've done rather successfully before.  This year, I decided to try a Three Sisters Garden (corn, beans, and squash) to see what will happen with another one of natures little perfect combinations. So far, so good.

On to the recipe.  It's not really a recipe, though.  Some people dress soaked and desilked corn up with chili powder and lime or basil leaves and butter, or some such "gourmet" combination prior to grilling.  In our opinion, the season doesn't last long enough to mess around trying to change perfection, so we enjoy it with just butter and salt because just those two ingredients bring out that beautiful, gorgeous flavor without masking it at all.  Maybe try the bacon-wrapped corn on the cob for the blanched and frozen corn in mid winter - during the summer, just enjoy it the way nature intended it to be for those few short weeks it is at its peak.

If you can't find a way to grill your corn, boiling is the next best thing.  To boil corn on the cob, husk the corn, rinse as much of the silk from the cob as you can.  Place the ears in a large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat.  Allow to cook (covered and off the heat) for about 12-14 minutes. 

Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • several ears freshly picked sweet corn
  • water
  • fire
  • butter
  • salt
Peel back the husks of the sweet corn.  Pull as much of the silk out as you can.  Push the husks back up around the corn .  It is okay if you mutilate some of the outer husks trying to open it - you just need 2-3 layers of husks to cover the corn for grilling.

Place corn into a big pot of cold water.  Soak for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes (this is partly to create steam during grilling and partly to get any bugs in the corn to leave immediately).

Get coals, wood, or gas hot.  Place a grate over said heat.

The gas in my gas grill fizzled and so we used wood over the fire pit.  The flavor was so amazing!
Place the corn onto the hot grate.

Cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally.  Husks will turn black - that's okay because you don't eat that part, anyway.

Serve the corn as it is ready.  Spread with lots of real butter and sprinkle with salt.  Set the rest of the corn aside (away from the flame), and cover with a tent of foil or inverted pan to keep warm for the next helping.

Rave to friends and family about how super fantastic roasted corn is and wish you could eat it all year long.

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