Perhaps one of the greatest summertime treats here in New England is locally grown corn on the cob. As a kid we used to love it. My parents would buy it from a local stand in town and prepare it with the standard boil. Then complete with the famous Tupperware corn holders we would smother it with butter, salt and pepper and then do our best old-fashioned typewriter impression as we cleaned the kernels down to the cob, row by row.
These days it seems counter-productive to spend a whole lot of energy boiling water to just end up leaving the best flavors in the water that goes down the drain. With that in mind I set out to re-imagine my own childhood memories of corn on the cob by taking care of it on the grill.
There are plenty of schools of thought on how to best achieve the perfect grilled corn. From soaking them for hours and grilling them in the husks, to completely removing all the green and going right over the flame. Ultimately, the method that seemed to make the most sense to me was to mostly remove the husk and then grill them up.
The process I like to go with I learned from The Cooks Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue. With this method you take all but the last layer of husk off the corn before grilling, and it goes right on the grill without needing to soak it, and best of all it’s done in just 20 minutes.
- 8 ears of fresh picked corn on the cob, in the husks
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp ground Pepper
- Peal all but the last layer or two of husks off of each ear of corn. You’ll be able to see the shape of the kernels clearly when you’re there, breaking off the stems and trimming the silk from the tops with kitchen shears.
- Fill a chimney full of charcoal and light.
- Meanwhile, combine softened butter, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Be sure not to over stir, as to not melt the butter. Cover and set aside.
- Make a foil boat of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil folded in half by folding up each end about 3/4″ and crimping them in the corners. Set aside.
- After about 20 minutes when ash begins to form on the top layer of coals, carefully add the charcoal to one half of your grill.
- Put the grate on, cover and wait 5 minutes.
- Scrape clean your grate and oil with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil and wait another 5 minutes.
- Place the ears of corn in a row directly over the coals with the stem ends pointing towards the center of the grill.
- Let the ears sit, rotate the ears, 1/3 turn, every 3 or four minutes until the husks are charred evenly and the kernels are tender to the poke.
- Take the ears off the grill and place in a small aluminum pan, or on baking dish, cover with foil to keep warm.
- Return the cover to the grill.
- Remove the charred husks from the corn. Using your hands rub the corn to remove as much silk as possible.
- Put 1/4 of the seasoned butter in the foil boat and drag each ear through the butter rotating as to spread melted butter evenly across each ear. Add butter as necessary but don’t use it all, save it for the table.
- Put the corn back on the grill and rotate every 30 seconds until completing a single rotation (2 minutes total time).
- Pull from the grill, put back in dish and cover until ready to serve.
- Place any remaining seasoned butter on the table with a butter knife, pass the dish and enjoy.
- Though not required, sound effects of an old typewriter “ding” at the end of each row are highly recommended.