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Feb 13, 2009 10:08 AM

Marinating corn on the cob?

I'm planning a large outdoor BBQ that's taking place when the weather gets nice, and have begun planning for it. One of the things I want to make is grilled corn on the cob, but I wanted to add a twist to the staple.

However, I don't want to individually add a topping to the corn after cooking it, I'd much prefer to marinate or infuse the corn (I was thinking Old Bay, but am very open to suggestions) ahead of time, but don't have much experience doing this.

I'd greatly appreciate it if someone could share their past experiences.

Thanks! :)

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    1. re: roro1831

      Hmmm... That does sound interesting, but I'm not sure if it's the taste I'm looking for.

    2. The old marinade in the islands is:
      shuck corn and cut off 1 to 2 inches off tops, leave on the last layer of husk.
      mix in large container [plastic if possible, and a cover would be great} enough water to cover,salt, black pepper,thyme, a dash of vinegar and 2 whole fresh scotch bonnet cut into quarters or any HOT pepper, and 1 table spoon of grated ginger,adjust seasoning to taste. The corn will float at first so you may need to weigh then down, Leave for 2 to 3 days.
      Then you can either boil, steam or grill them on the cold side of the grill. the best part is in the actual cob that has absorbed the marinade and has become smoky on a grill.
      good luck

      13 Replies
      1. re: currymouth

        Mmmm... This sounds like what I'm looking for.

        I like the idea of husking the corn except for the last layer, as it'd still let a lot of the marinade in, but still be grill-able. I'd read about people that shuck the corn, but then re-wrap the ears, but that sounded like a terrible pain.

        1. re: tacologic

          This marinade came from an old lady that would then boil the corn over a charcoal fire in a huge pot with even more peppers, salt, and salted and smoked ham hocks for flavor.
          We would spend the better half of an hour chewing through the cobs to get every ounce of juice.

          1. re: tacologic

            There are 2 schools of thought on grilling corn. Those who say leave the husks on and those that say don't.

            Leaving the husks on will tend to steam the corn. You'll still get some smoke and grill flavor, but not as much. The other option is to husk the entire ear (my preferred method) and then grill the corn over the fire. This way you'll get some significant caramelization and flavor directly from the grill.

            As far as marination goes, I think it might be more trouble than it's worth but that's up to you. I can tell you that if I planned on adding flavors, I'd do it once they were off the grill. I'm not sure how much flavor corn on the cob can actually soak up.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Quite a bit from my experience, but then again not much in the corn it self but in the cob.
              Please I don't for see a clutch of polite Americans at a BBQ standing in a circle, chewing on corn cobs,juice dripping down their elbows.But this is quite a common sight in the Caribbean

              1. re: currymouth

                Well what else do you have to eat when you're standing around eating this corn? Anything of substance? I'm not trying to sound demeaning, I'm really curious.

                My thought when the original poster said "large outdoor BBQ" was that the corn is a side dish to a much larger main dish. Now I'm not sure what large means (30-40 people?) but preparing a side dish that takes 2 or 3 days of soaking is what I meant by more trouble than it's worth.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  No harm. No foul. HD. I just shared a marinade that I have been offering to my guests for a long time, But we don't really have typical cookouts.My garlic porkbelly marinates for 5 days, and grilled chili lobster and crabs takes 4 hours to prep and season before it hits the grill. I guess my point is, time and trouble is not a factor when preparing a meal for family and friends
                  As to your question of what else is eaten while standing around? Grilled mango and Papaya salad with dried shrimp ,mini venison skewers in a Mama Sita marinade from the Philippines, Madras curry and chutney prawns. Oysters with Ponzu and Saki all prepared on the grill while having some cold ones.
                  We are a multicultural crowd and ribs,hot dogs and Hamburgers do show up but always with a twist.

                  1. re: currymouth

                    currymouth I will book my ticket now if I can be invited to one of your BBQ's ;-)

                    That all sounds FANTASTIC

                  2. re: HaagenDazs

                    The corn will be one of the many dishes on the menu, but definitely a side dish. Large in this case means 80-100 people.

                    And for the record, I'm in Park Slope if you want to stop on by. :)

                  3. re: currymouth

                    I second your suggestion Curry. Whole family does this all the time, sometimes a tiny teaspoon of sugar is tossed in if there are babies. But I love well seasoned corn. If one did not want to marinade for days you could always season water with scotchbonnet, onions, garlic, old bay and boil the corn until tender.

                  4. re: HaagenDazs

                    One of the side reasons I want to marinate the corn ahead of time, is for timing purposes. When I do fresh corn on the grill, I tend to keep it dry, and then soak it for about a half hour prior to grilling. This year however, there's going to be too much corn to do in one or even two batches, thus, getting it done ahead of time seems like the way I want to go.

                    1. re: tacologic

                      It may benefit you to invest in another grill.I too found it hard to juggle all the cooking times for a large crowd but now since I purchased another 22 inch Weber it's just a matter of keeping enough chimneys of charcoal going. If you do use charcoal also get a butane torch from Home Depo or Lowe's to get it going faster.

                      1. re: currymouth

                        Hrm. Right now I have two grills... A really big "oil drum on its side" one, which takes care of a lot of the work (the corn usually sits on the top rack away from the flame for awhile to get some smokey flavor, and then put on the grill to give a bit of char and caramelization). The second keeps the very large pot of pulled pork warm.

                        In theory, I could invest in another one for corn, but I wonder if it's overkill.

                        1. re: tacologic

                          Nah, A third would be overkill. Just edit your guest list or resign yourself to the fact you will be out there all day, Not such a bad thing on a fine day, with good company,cold beer and a decent cigar.
                          You have it down, now run with it. Cheers.

              2. Did this last year, A friend from work gave it to me.

                2 tablespoons honey, 6 ears of corn, 5 cups coconut milk, 1/2 cup milk, Salt and pepper , to taste, marinade all day and grill, the husks are better pulled back.

                Also I have marinated mine with olive oil, fresh lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and a bit of red pepper. Just put all in a large baggie and marinade. This is a spicy recipe. I shuck it all, but the last but pull it back, then rub the oil all over the cotn and put in a pan to marinade over night or all day. If just for a few ... it is fun to pull the husks back and tie with a little string. Makes it fun and easier to marinade and grill. Serve with a cilantro butter. Easy and quick

                Also, old bay, oil and lime also works. It doesn't work well through the husks, the husks need to be pulled back first.

                My favorite, shuck tie back the husks and mix a marinade, lime juice, honey, chili powder and cumin and pepper. Rub over corn and cover with saran wrap in a large pan and grill and serve with a good manchego dip. I love to make a creamy manchego cheese sauce on the side that they can pour over the warm corn. It is amazing.

                Let me know if you want more details. Made all these and alot of fun.

                7 Replies
                1. re: kchurchill5

                  I've been told that Old Bay isn't water soluble, and it needs something else to really get into the corn. Oil and lime sound like a good idea, but filling up a huge barrel with oil seems a little strange and possibly costly. But also delicious!

                  1. re: tacologic

                    Well all the crab boils that I make use old bay and it is just water and old bay, corn potatoes, crab, shrimp etc and the flavor goes in everything.

                    1. re: tacologic

                      Well I'd say it's more that the corn isn't soluable. I have too used old bay in water for a boil it seems to do its thing and that's to flavor the boil and what goes into it.

                      The best thing to do is the chili,butter, lime, cumin, salt and pepper rub. And I too to this in a baggie. I don't really like to mess with the husks much. Sometimes throw the corn on the grill, and get it going, and then roll it in a great big silver bowl with all the butter, lime etc... I find it really is better afterwards.
                      If I am going to cook the corn in the husk, it's really good with nothing on it or maybe just butter. The husks really flavor the corn.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        Wow this sounds amazing, I just put the ingredients on my shopping list for dinner tonight!

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          I prefer the husks off for the most part, I hate the silk, and the chili lime butter is awesome. A favorite at my BBQ's. One neighbor likes blue cheese butter so I always have to make both.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            Very important to clean the silk and wash the corn, otherwise it is terribly embarrassing to watch guests draw that out of their mouths.Please.
                            If you have to use the husks, besure to wrap the tenderst ones back onto the corn with the toughest on the outside (it can tolerate the grill better) and if it catches fire, the inside will protect the corn and steam. I find if I cook it this way I end up with steamed corn. If I pull the husks back, then char the corn on the grill, it's a roasted corn, and the kernels are tougher. Got to be careful you can produce a very dry ear of corn. Timing is everything. I've left the husks on the end for appearances sake, and find that it's best to just get rid of all that stuff. Have you tried lime and cilantro butter? Or drizzle with cilantro and basil "pesto"? So many ways to eat corn.

                            Okay I'm off to go microwave a fresh ear.haha!!!

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              I do the husks but I completely clean, tie or pull them back and soak. I hate silks and agree with you guests do too. Sometimes I have just grilled right on the grill especially with fresh which takes no times. I then olive oil the corn, otherwise the ones with corn I put sauce on after.

                              Some on do right completely stripped right in the oven if not grilling and then are fine, again, just a little evoo first. And micro, I wrap in saran for 1 1/2 minutes and perfect. No grill marks but fresh, crisp and not soggy or tough.

                              Yes, I love lime and cilantro and chili powder, love blue cheese butter and lose pesto. I mix a little pesto with a little salt and just brush it on. That is also great topped with parm as well.

                              I love corn. Totally love it. As much is zucchini :)

                    2. I like this Marinating idea and Old Bay might work well. It would seem that leaving the husks on and soaking the corn in a bath of water mixed with whatever seasoning would be the way to achieve the result you want. Just allow a good amount of time in the bath for the flavor to reach the core. I leave my corn in a bucket full of water for at least 30 min. before grilling even without any seasoning. I find that leaving the husk on while grilling adds the flavor of the husk to the corn. I would think that the same method would help the transfer of flavor of marinated corn during grilling because the marinated / seasoned water trapped in the husk would steam the corn. Another way would be to remove the husk and wrap the ears of corn in foil along with a little butter and seasoning mixture. My brother Bob likes it wrapped in foil and he adds sliced marinated mild jalapeno and carrots right out of the can with a little butter and salt. When he does not have the can of jalapenos he adds crushed red peppers with the butter.

                      1. From going to many BBQ, I hate the husk on, irritating, silk some still on, I can't eat it. Yes it does add more flavor. Marinating time is much longer. I still prefer they pull the husks back before serving or at least clean really well. But just my opinion. I agree more flavor, but most of my friends find it irratating. The party is for them not for the perfect flavor. It just depends.