The crunch when you bite into golden kernels. An occasional squirt of corn juice when the ears are nice and fresh. Then, the unmistakable taste of summer – grilled corn on the cob. Have you ever grilled it? Its lip smacking good smeared with a soft herb and spice butter.
Grilled Corn on the Cob: Love at First Bite
I’ve had a love affair with summer corn on the cob since I was a kid. Mom always had to cook extra ears just for me. I would skip other things at dinner and go for more corn on the cob. Sure, you can drop it into boiling water for 3-4 minutes or steam it, but corn on the cob is great grilled. Grilling magnifies the natural sweetness of the corn. The direct heat caramelizes corn’s natural sugars.
Sweet Grilled Corn on the Cob
As in all things cooking related, there are different camps when it comes to grilling corn on the cob. Some people soak the corn in the husks in water, then grill it in the husks. The water keeps the husks from burning and steams the corn inside. Some people pull the husk back, smear the cobs with butter or olive oil, replace the husks, then grill.
While I often do the quick boil, I love to grill corn on the cob. Peel the husks back, remove the silk, smear with a little olive oil and grill the cobs right on the open flames. This direct contact chars some of the kernels, giving the corn an almost pop-corny taste. I love that charred, sweet flavor.
For the photo, I left the husks on. Start by peeling the husks back like a banana peel and removing the silk. Then tie the husks into a bundle with a thin strip of husk. Cover them with a wet kitchen towel to keep each ear moist as you clean and tie the rest. Rub each ear with a few drops of olive oil then place them on a medium-hot grill for about 10-12 minutes with the lid closed. Turn cobs occasionally until you get nice even charring.
While these husks look neat in the photo, they are a bit messy to eat this way. If you want to do this and leave the tied husks on as handles, position the husks over the edge of the grill, away from the heat and flames. They will stay more green and not get so messy. Alternatively strip the husks and simply grill the cobs.
Make Herb Butter
While plain butter, salt and pepper are fine, making an herb butter takes your corn on the cob to the next level. You can use regular unsalted dairy butter, or non-dairy butter. To make the spiced herb butter mix together soft butter, granulated garlic (or use finely minced fresh garlic), 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. If you are in the cilantro-hater club, use fresh Italian parsley or another fresh herb of your choice.
While thought of as a vegetable, corn is more realistically a grain. Essentially it’s a large grass. If you asked a botanist, they would tell you it is a fruit, like tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and other squashes. In a healthy diet, think of corn as a grain. Balance this starch with green vegetables or a nice big salad to get your real vegetables in. Think of corn as you would rice or pasta.
Nutritionally, corn is good source of thiamine, folate, vitamin C, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Yellow corn is an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for our eyes and vision.
More about what is nutritionally beneficial about corn and lots of other great information on corn, from Worlds Healthiest Foods site
What else to do with fresh summer corn? Make dairy-free creamy corn chowder.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Herb Butter
- 3-4 tablespoons room temperature butter coconut butter, dairy butter, or earth balance
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or a clove of finely chopped fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- pinch of salt optional
- 6 large ears fresh corn on the cob preferably organic, see links below
- Olive oil as needed
- Start by making your butter. You can mix it by hand in small bowl or whirl it together in the small bowl of a food processor. Combine butter through salt (if using) until smooth. Refrigerate until serving. Let it stand a little while at room temperature so it spreads on easily while the corn is hot.
- To clean corn, peel husks back like a banana peel. Strip off the corn silk and discard. If you are going to tie the husks like in the photo, use a long, thin piece of the husk and tie the ends together. You can also strip the husk and silk completely. As you clean each ear, place on a rimmed backing sheet or in a casserole dish and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
- Heat up the grill and clean the grate with a grill brush. Rub each ear with a little olive oil. Place cobs on grill and close lid. Check and turn ever few minutes with a pair of tongs. You want even charring or blackened kernels on all side. How much is up to you. It takes about 10-12 minutes over all.
- Serve hot, smeared with spiced herb butter.