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Killer Grilled Corn

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Michael Kleinman Jun 6, 2000 12:23 AM

A few days ago our power went out and I was forced to cook our entire meal on the grill. Part of it included corn on the cob. Now I had grilled corn before with mint leaves inserted under the desilked huskes,and it was pretty good. But I could not remember the details-do I soak the corn in cold water first,do you grill it on low heat for a long time? So I decided to check a reference to get a little direction. I figured Rosengarten's Dean & Deluca cook book would be most apt to address the subject and sure enough on page 174 he dedicated a little box of copy precisely to it. The jist of it is that any corn grilled with the husks on, weather it be desilked, soaked in water, soaked in milk, just steams the corn on the grill and never achives a smoky grilled flavor. The only way to get a grilled flavor is to grill the corn not the husks. So I placed my husked corn right on the hot grill and turned it periodicly till it was charred a deep brown all over. It looked incredible ,but better yet it was sweet and tender with an amazing smoky taste! It did not need butter or salt, of course I put them both on anyway just to check it out. So then the wheels started turning and I figured why not Grill Eggplant for Baba Ganoosh with the skin off so the flesh contacts the flame and charrs. It worked but not before an initial failure for unless you brush the eggplant with oil first, it just dries up and is ineddible. Now I'm thinking of all the things you can do with the grilled corn off the cobb like grilled corn & Chipotle pepper soup, spinach salad w/grilled corn ,roasted tomatoes and Chévre, Casadilla's w/ grilled corn and grilled onions.

  1. j
    jen kalb Jun 6, 2000 12:46 PM

    Cooks Mag ran a recipe last year for grilled corn that produced terrific results when we tried it. It was de-silked, in the husks, no soaking, and grilled on charcoal until really black and you you see the pattern of the kernels (not part of the recipe, but reality) The corn itself was a bit charred and good and smoky but plenty juicy. There's obviously a balance between maintaining moisture and getting the roasted/charred flavor into the corn. Their simple approach worked real well.

    9 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb
      j
      Josh Mittleman Jun 6, 2000 01:07 PM

      That's how I grill corn: desilked, husks on, and leave it on the grill until the husks char. The corn first steams, then roasts and smokes a bit.

      The traditional method for roasting eggplant for baba ganoush is to leave the skin on and blacken it all over. The burning skin flavors the meat.

      1. re: Josh Mittleman
        j
        Jeremy Jun 6, 2000 01:43 PM

        You can make good grilled corn over a gas flame too, though it's minus the smoky flavor. My method (which I learned in a restaurant kitchen, though it was used by the cooks to make ourselves snacks, not to be served to customers) is: take the husks and silk off the corn, and holding the ear in a pair of tongs, roast it over a high flame. when you hear the kernels next to the flame popping (which happens fairly quickly), rotate the ear so a fresh batch of kernels can cook. It takes about 5-10 minutes to cook an ear of corn this way.

        On the subject of corn, while I was working in that same restaurant kitchen -- it was autumn and there was a lot of ripe, fresh corn on hand -- I got into the habit of eating corn raw. Does anyone else do this? If the corn is really ripe, and fresh, there is enough sugar in it without cooking; and the juice that's in the kernels -- which goes away when you cook it -- is a wonderful thing, of a sort of similar nature to coconut water. A few people have suggested to me that such a thing would give them a stomach ache, but that has not happened to me.

        1. re: Jeremy
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          Sharon A Jun 6, 2000 02:21 PM

          When corn is absolutely fresh, there's nothing better than eating it raw and unadorned! Sometimes the juice drips down your chin; it's kind of like eating a fresh peach! But it's got to be absolutely fresh.

          1. re: Sharon A
            t
            Tida Jun 6, 2000 03:07 PM

            I eat it raw all the time. The corn I buy from our farmers' market is fresh as fresh can be and this is the only time I think anyone would want to eat it raw. The crunch of it is so nice. The way I got into eating raw corn was that I didn't want to wait for the water to boil, the grill to get hot, etc. and I just tried it one day. I'll make a salsa as well as a summer corn salad and put the raw corn in it, just for that extra crunch. Can't be beat!

          2. re: Jeremy
            h
            Heidi Jun 6, 2000 02:30 PM

            Last year while I was listening to NPR's Splendid Table I caught the Stern's going on about a market called the Green Market in Quechee VT.(phone #(802)457-3641). The market grills fresh corn, butters and tops with shakes of a maple sugar-pepper-salt mixture. I had to order some immediately and I ate myself sick on fresh grilled corn and maple pepper.The combination of the sweet/hot/salty/buttery is fantastic. They also make a version with habanero. If I recall correctly a jar was maybe four-five dollars.I grilled lots of corn and I still have plenty left for this year's crop. You MUST get some for grilled corn and take it to a higer level of summer deliciousness. BTW, I grill asparagus all the time and it is wonderful. But for thicker spears I recommend briefly steaming before grilling or the outsides unpleasantly char before the insides are cooked through.

            1. re: Heidi
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              Pepper Jun 6, 2000 04:12 PM

              In East Los Angeles, vendors frequently grill corn on street corners, then paint the hot ears with mayonnaise and sprinkle them with hot chile powder and lime juice. This shouldn't be good, but is.

              1. re: Pepper
                h
                howler Jun 6, 2000 04:25 PM

                thats almost exactly how the indians do it. we grill the corn directly over a charcoal brazier, and then add ghee, salt, chili masala and lime. the 'corn' that we have in india needs this treatment because its pretty awful when compared to the real thing - but spiced up this way, it makes for delicious street fare.

                1. re: howler
                  b
                  Betty Jun 7, 2000 02:30 PM

                  At the Oklahoma City State Fair, they deep-fry corn on a long stick, then dip it in melted butter. They have a chili-powder mix to shake on. The corn looks suspiciously dark, but is tender, juicy, sweet, with chewy caramelly-bits.

                  At home we pan-fry fresh garden sweet corn with all that juice that runs off when it's cut. We only use butter, salt & pepper and a cast-iron skillet. I like to sprinkle on a little of the sugar-vinegar juice from pickled red bell peppers.

            2. re: Jeremy
              r
              robin edgerton Nov 22, 2000 05:12 PM

              I come from a long line of Connecticut sweet-corn growers (my uncle may be the last of us) and every family reunion (for the last 100 years) involves massive quantities of sweet corn speared on pitchforks and held directly over the coals/flames. You can do more ears that way. Black and with butter and salt, everyone gets raccoon-rings around their mouths, for a while...

              best

              -robin

        2. d
          Dena Jun 6, 2000 09:21 AM

          One word: YUM!!!!
          When it comes to grilling onions, I've found the best way is to slice thick rings and then use soaked toothpicks to keep each ring together, inserted like compass points. I brush the rings with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. The toothpicks make turning them easy, with no danger of having them separate. And, though I haven't tried it, there's no reason the same trick with the toothpicks (or long wooden skewers, soaked) wouldn't work with lightly oiled and seasoned asparagus on the grill.

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