Summer Loving: Corn Meets Grill

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Love grilled corn? Me too! But then maybe you should skip this and its crappy pics from years ago and pop right on over to see my recipes for Mexican Street Corn with Cotija and Garlic Aioli and Spanish Tapas with Sriracha Butter to see my favorite recipes for grilled corn. Sublime.

Nothing Says Summer Like Corn-on-the-Cob

Grilled CornIt was about this time last year that I began writing about my summer love affair with corn and tomatoes, and you can tell from my recent posts on fresh tomato sauce and my favorite tomato sandwich that this year’s annual tryst is just beginning. In other words, you will hear me talk about corn and tomatoes in the coming months a lot. Don’t worry, though: I have plenty of sweet and savory dishes in the works, too.

In the meantime, this is the first of a two-parter where I make basic grilled corn today before kicking it up a notch tomorrow. (I’d tell you what that recipe is, but I want it to be a surprise.) It’s summer, after all, which is the time for grilling if you are lucky enough to own a BBQ. There are indoor versions, too, so you can still get your grilled vegetables on, whether as an easy side dish, on a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, or in a grilled parm.

But why should zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms have all the fun? Corn can get hot and sizzling, too, you know.

Corn Gets Some Grilling Action

Just to be clear, there is nothing at all wrong with corn on the cob simply boiled for 7 minutes on the stove top. I love it, and during the summer months, that together with a big salad is often my supper. Really. (More here.)

In other words, I don’t always go the extra step to grill corn, of course. Especially, er, because I live in a condo with no outdoor grill and my stovetop version really isn’t big enough to grill whole corn. Plus, it gets crazy smoky in my house. That said, the grilled version really is a corn of a different cob. (Forgive me, please, that was truly terrible. Groan again, I deserve it.) As with other vegetables, grilling or pan-frying over very high heat will caramelize some of the sugars, leading to a sweet-charred flavor that simply can not happen any other way. Below are the simple instructions for grilling corn, whether with a traditional BBQ, an indoor grill, or my makeshift approach using the old-fashioned oven and frying pan.

Grilling Corn in Three Easy Steps

1. Soak the unhusked corn in cold water for 10 minutes; this is to prevent the husks from catching fire on the grill. (No photo, but, really, what’s there to see? Just two cobs bobbing around in a cold water bath enjoying themselves before hopping onto the hot grill.) 

2. Grill the unhusked corn over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, turning it halfway through. Remember to remove any extraneous silk poking through the end. (In my indoor version, I simply roasted it in the oven at 450 degrees.)

Roasted Corn

3. Remove the husks and corn silk and grill for about 10 minutes, turning to achieve charring on all sides. (I completed this step in a very hot frying pan to achieve a similar effect, as my kitchen was becoming unbearably smoky from the grill and it was getting irksome; see above.)

Seared Corn

See how easy that was? (Smoke detector going off notwithstanding, but that’s just me in my ill-ventilated kitchen.) Now all you need to do is place on a plate and dig in, whether lawnmower or typewriter style. Height-of-the-season corn is sweet and flavorful enough to be eaten on its own, but traditional accompaniments of a bit of butter, salt, and freshly ground pepper are always lovely. Or perhaps try a drizzle of fruity olive or a slather of pesto for something a little different.

I’m in love.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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