Grilled Corn is my favorite grilled side dish – it’s quick and easy, and grilling brings out the sweet taste of the corn. The only reason I haven’t posted it before this is…I thought I already HAD posted it.
It’s a perfect recipe for September, when you can still get wonderfully sweet corn straight from the farm, but you’re getting a little tired of plain boiled corn.
And…you didn’t hear it from me, Mr. Buy Local, but it’s also great for store-bought corn the rest of the year. Grilling the corn perks up the bland flavor of out of season corn to where it’s actually worth eating!
- Fresh ears of corn, husked
- Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp melted butter per 6 ears of corn (optional if the corn is really fresh)
1. Prepare the corn: Husk the corn, put it on a large sheet pan and give it a good sprinkling of salt on all sides.* Let the corn sit at room temperature until ready to grill. Meanwhile, melt the butter; I do this in a pyrex measuring cup in my microwave, because the cup acts as a good holder for my basting brush.
*Yes, I know a lot of the salt will fall off; that’s OK. The salt that sticks really helps. See the notes for brining the corn if it’s out of season corn. (Yes, brining corn. Yes, I will brine just about anything.)
2. Prepare the grill Set your grill up for cooking on medium heat. For my Weber Summit, this means preheating with all the burners on high for 10-15 minutes, then turning the burners down to medium.
For my Weber kettle, I light a Weber Chimney Starter half full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in a thin single layer on the grill grate.
*In practice, I usually start with more charcoal, because I’m cooking the main course first. There isn’t enough room on a Weber Kettle for corn and a main dish. The corn is cooked second, and the coals have cooled down at that point.
3. Grill the corn: Put the ears of corn on the grill, directly over the medium heat. If you’re cooking with a gas grill, or a charcoal grill that isn’t really that hot, cook with the lid closed as much as possible. Cook the corn for three minutes, or until the corn starts to brown. Give it a quarter turn (rotate the cooked section of the corn to the side), then cook for another three minutes. Another quarter turn, and another three minutes of cooking. One last turn, brush the top of the corn with the melted butter, and cook for a last three minutes. (Watch out flareups if the butter drips into the fire).
*Think of the corn as having four sides – you want to rotate each side to face the heat for two minutes. Think 3-3-3-3. If one part of your grill is browning the corn more than another, swap the ears around during one of the turns.
4. Serve: Remove the corn from the grill, and brush with any remaining butter. Serve
*The butter really is optional if you have great corn. We got some from Szalay’s Farm last week that only needed a little salt.
*Mexican street vendor style (Elote Asado): Mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 tsp ancho chile powder, and 1/2 cup grated mexican cheese in a bowl. Cook the corn a little longer, about 3 minutes per turn. (See note below). Brush sour cream/mayo mix evenly over the corn after it’s been cooked.
*This timing will give you lightly grilled corn; it will be just a little browned. If you like it darker, go 4 minutes (or more) per side. Also, timings vary widely on a charcoal grill, depending on the heat, so adjust the time between turns based on how quickly the corn is browning.
*Corn takes up a lot of space on the grill. If your grill isn’t as big as mine, cook it after the entree is done; it will only take about ten minutes.
*This is part of the reason I bought my monster gas grill. I wanted the extra surface area to cook a vegetable side dish at the same time as the main course. Or, at least, that’s how I justified it to myself…
*Cooks Illustrated recommends that you brine the corn in a 1/4 cup table salt to 1 quart of water solution for a half an hour to an hour before grilling. I’ve found that helps if the corn is out of season, but you don’t need to do it with farm fresh corn.
[Update 2013-08-01: Never mind. Brining corn is a bad idea. ]
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques
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