Certain things just taste like summer, and corn
on the cob is one of them. Popular kitchen wisdom used to dictate that the way to cook corn on the cob was to
set a large pot of water to boil, run out to the garden, pick the corn
, shuck it on the way into the house, and plunge it, post haste, into the boiling water. But now with the sweeter varieties of corn
readily available at farmers` markets and grocers, a less frenetic approach is possible. Whether white, yellow, or variegated (like Butter and Sugar), the new sugar-enhanced hybrids are not only much sweeter and crisper, but they also measure their loss of sugar in days instead of hours. This affords the corn-loving cook
(me) the luxury of building a fire in a backyard grill and cooking the corn
in the way that I think best takes advantage of the sweet crispness of the ears.
The husks provide protection and flavor
I prefer to grill the corn
while still in its husk, silk and all. This method seems to steam the corn
to perfection while giving it a slight smokiness that brings out the corn
flavor. Some people recommend soaking the husks before grilling, but doing this keeps the husks from charring and eliminates the smoky flavor that I find so desirable. Here`s how to grill corn
Peel away the outer layers of husk. If the ears have many layers of husk on them, I`ll peel off the first few, leaving a few layers for protection, but allowing the kernels to see a little action.
Use a lively fire. I usually put the corn
on the grill as soon as the initial flames from the charcoal (hardwood, not briquettes, please) die down and the coals are still red-hot. This way, I take advantage of all those Btus while waiting for the coals to settle down to the perfect temperature at which to grill meat or fish. Corn
protected by its husk is very forgiving, so if a few flames lick the ears and light the husks, don`t worry. Take care, however, not to crowd the grill, which would choke off too much air to the coals.
Keep turning those ears. Grill the corn
, turning often, until the first layer of husk is completely charred. Depending on your fire, this could take from around 5 to 10 minutes. You can push the corn
to a cooler spot if you`re grilling other things for your meal, or transfer the grilled corn
to a platter and keep it warm in the charred husks until serving.
Add a final kiss of smoke with the husks off. Just before serving, I sometimes peel back the husk and brown the kernels on the grill, turning the corn
frequently. You don`t need to oil the corn
for grilling directly like this, as it only takes a minute or so for it to develop a roasty color and a little additional smoke flavor. But if the corn
spends too long
on the grill without the protection of the husk, the kernels will become dry and a bit chewy.
To remove the corn
from its husk, cut the stem end up to the bottom of the ear and peel back the husks and silk. You might need to brush away burnt silks. Now just dress the corn
as you like: butter, olive oil, salt. I suggest my Lime-Cayenne Butter. You can find this Lime-Cayenne Butter at http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pages…
Whether you eat it hot off the grill or in one of the ways suggested at right, grilled corn
will enter your "taste memory bank" to epitomize the sweet taste of summer.