Corn is one of the quintessential summer foods. Although you can get corn year-round if you buy it frozen or canned, we think it tastes best fresh off the cob. It tastes even better if you can get it as freshly-picked as possible. Dan grew up with summers full of fresh (as in picked that morning) corn from a place called Barroner’s Farm in Pennsylvania, and it’s no coincidence that we almost always make a trip home to visit Dan’s mom during corn season (Hi Elaine!) Fresh corn conjures memories of childhood summers for me as well, since us kids used to spend a couple of weeks every summer with our grandparents in Ohio. After these visits, my parents were always happy to see us when they picked us up at the airport — no doubt they missed us, but I suspect that the big box of fresh corn coming off the baggage claim belt had something to do with their happy smiles as well. For years after moving to Texas, Dan wouldn’t even bother with the corn available here because it wasn’t as fresh as the corn from his childhood. But as his grilling repertoire has grown, he discovered a way to cook corn that, while not quite as good as fresh-picked, is still delicious and tastes like summer.
Start by chopping off the pointy ends of the corn cobbs and soaking them (with the husks still on) in water for about half an hour. Soaking the ears first allows the corn to steam a bit on the grill and prevents it from burning.
Next, grill the corn over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes total.
Turn the corn several times to ensure that it cooks evenly.
Take the corn off the grill when the husks get blackened on all sides. Allow the corn to rest about 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and cool off enough that you can de-husk the corn without burning yourself.
While the corn cooks, add salt & pepper to several tablespoons of butter for seasoning the corn when it’s done. You can pretty much add any of your favorite spices to the butter. For example, paprika, garlic or thyme would pair well with the buttery grilled corn flavor.
After the corn has rested, pull back the husks (carefully – they are still hot!) and remove any silks that don’t come off with the husks.
Spread the seasoned butter over the hot ears of corn so it melts right in to all the crevices. There are probably many (better) ways to do this — my spoon method was rather clumsy (or maybe that’s just me) and resulted in a lot of wasted butter (for shame). My grandparents’ method involved putting a pat of butter on a piece of bread and rubbing it over all sides of the corn. More effective, but not if you don’t have any bread.
We served the corn with smoked brisket, sauteed okra and baked beans for a lovely dinner with my parents. Even as we (and many of you) currently swelter under triple digit temperatures, the buttery, sweet and hot-off-the-grill flavor of corn on the cobb is a nice reminder of the good things that summer brings — sunshine, vacation, fun with family and friends, and happy childhood memories.