Corn on the cob might have been the first vegetable I began cooking on a grill, steaming the kernels in the ear’s husks. Later I learned that some cooks remove the husks entirely and then wrap the ears in foil. I encourage you to try in-the-husk grilling instead. Not only do you avoid direct food contact with aluminum, which leaves both a metallic taste and unnecessary waste, but the corn’s husks steam while capturing the flavor of open-flame cooking.
I so enjoy the flavor of lightly charred corn that I grill the kernels I plan to strip from the cob and freeze for winter use. For freezing, skip the butter and just grill the corn for about six minutes, turning regularly. Let the ears cool to room temperature before removing the husks, standing each ear upright on a large plate and running a sharp knife down it to strip off the kernels. Freeze the kernels on a tray before packing them into zip-close freezer bags.
If you want to freeze some ears and put butter on others to eat straightaway, I suggest tying long chives or kitchen twine around the buttered ears to easily identify them on the grill.
Kernel-stripped corncobs still have plenty of flavor to impart into a homemade stock. I use about half of the ingredients I put in Homemade Vegetable Stock, skipping strongly flavored mushrooms, and pile in the corncobs before simmering for about 30 minutes.
Husk-Grilled Corn with Smoky Lime Butter
6 ears of corn, still in their husks
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
Carefully pull the husks back from each ear of corn, but leave them attached. Pull out and compost the silk, and then set the ears in a large bowl. Add a few inches of cold water to cover the husks. Let the ears soak for about 20 minutes before transferring them to a colander until the water drains off.
In a small bowl, use a fork to beat the butter until it is soft. Zest the lime into the bowl, and then squeeze in the juice. Add the paprika and beat the mixture with the fork to work the juice into the butter. Spread about a tablespoon of lime butter over each ear of corn. Pull the husks back up until they enclose each ear.
Place the corn on a medium-hot grill and cover, venting as need. Grill the corn for about 12 minutes, until the husks are slightly browned and the kernels are tender. Rotate the ears every couple of minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Remove the corn from the grill, let the ears steam in their husks until they’re cool enough to handle and then pull off the husks. Sprinkle each ear with salt and pepper before rolling it in grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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