I never much liked corn. It smells funny when it comes out of can, or did to my younger nose, so I was never inclined to taste it fresh off the cob. It was just one of the many things I decided that I didn’t like on sight. Because of this, I’ve really only had corn on the cob the way my boyfriend prepares it. I don’t know if there are other ways, but I recently had a friend over for dinner, at which corn on the cob was served. My friend remarked that she had never had corn on the cob prepared this way, and found it superior to other methods. With that in mind, here is my boyfriend’s method for selecting and preparing corn on the cob for the grill.
He’s a meticulous shopper for corn. He will only buy it in season (and it’s still technically a little early, but we’re right on the cusp now), in the husk. In the grocery store, he has no shame about peeling back the husk to taste a kernel. It should be sweet and tender right off the cob, he says. Once he’s decided that the corn passes muster, we take it home.
The husk gets washed, but (and this is important), the husk stays on the corn. He fills a bowl or the sink with cold water and soaks the husked ears for at least two hours. Once they have sufficiently soaked, they are taken to the grill. He grills them over a medium flame (or on the second shelf of the grill, if there is one) for what seems to me like a long time. It’s apparently more an art than a science; he burns his fingers peeling back the husk to test kernels for doneness. When the kernels are quite tender, he serves the ears, still in their husks, to guests alongside melted butter. Guests peel back the husk to reveal steamy, tender, bright yellow kernels of corn.
It’s a messy process. The husk is frequently dotted with charred spots that flake off when it’s pulled back, and the steam turns to liquid on your hands (which makes the charred bits of husk stick). Still, it’s the only way I know, and this method made me actually enjoy corn.
What are your corn secrets? Share your tips and flavorings in the comments!