Originally published July 7, 2015 – Since I’m headed off on vacation for two weeks, I hope you’ll allow me the liberty to cheat a bit on this week’s post. I’d like to share one of my favorite new recipes, something that will come in handy on summer weekends.
It’s a pretty simple recipe, but with great results – Charred Corn on the Cob with Compound Butter (liberally adapted from an episode of Cook’s Country). And you might even get a chuckle or two as you read along. It’s intended for a charcoal grill, but I suppose gas would work, although I haven’t done it that way.
Shuck your corn, while the briquettes heat up. If you’re not familiar with starting a fire, please see “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London (http://www.amazon.com/Build-Fire-Other-Stories-Illustrated-ebook/dp/B0082GYWHG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435004795&sr=1-1&keywords=to+build+a+fire).
It doesn’t really matter how many briquettes you use, as I assume you’re cooking the corn along with burgers, steaks, or other flame-kissed animal protein deliciousness. More than one briquette, fewer than the whole bag. Unless it’s a small bag.
Set them on fire using your favorite method: matches, road flare, Zippo, chimney, toxic lighter fluid whose petrolatum-based flames will take years off your family’s lives (hey, it’s your call), napalm, flamethrower, whatever.
Once the coals are hot, put the ears of corn directly on the grill grate, over a hot spot on the grill. Cover, don’t cover, really doesn’t matter. Just get the ears over some hot flame/coals. Leave ’em alone for a bit.
Go back inside, and grab a stick of softened butter, which you sat out on the counter earlier. What? You didn’t set the butter out to soften? But I said we’re making compound butter. How did you think that was going to happen? The butter fairy? Wow, I’m not sure you’re ready for this recipe. Sit down over there and think about your life decisions for a moment.
Or, pop it in the microwave on high for 10-15 seconds, just long enough to soften — NOT MELT — the butter. Place the softened butter in a small bowl, and combine with some herbs: equal parts tarragon, basil, parsley, etc. Those three work really well, but it’s up to you. Fresh is better, but dried works too. Put enough in that you can see herb in every bit of the butter. Mix it up; should look kinda green.
Back to the grill. Rotate the ears of corn a third of a turn or so, moving the charred side up.
Back inside – grab a 13 x 9 or larger pan (size depends on how much corn you’re cooking). 13 x 9 will handle 6-8 ears. If you’re cooking all the corn in Kansas, you’ll need a bigger pan. Use a disposable if you’re too lazy to wash it after. If not, aluminum is fine.
Glass will work, but will probably get REALLY messy. So if your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/life partner/significant other/posslq has a favorite Corning Ware pan handed down from great great grandma Corning, you may want to re-think your choice.
Anyways, however you decide, you now are in possession of a pan. Depending on how long this internal debate and external decision took you (longer for indecisive ones who didn’t put the butter out to soften), you may have turned your charred corn into tragically burnt corn, and have to start over.
However, if you are a Master and Commander, and decisively grabbed that darn pan, you’re still on schedule. Plop that big ol’ blob of compound butter right in the middle of that pan. Grab a roll of aluminum foil, grab the pan, and head back out to the grill.
Your corn is now nicely charred on two of its three sides . . .
Really, you’re gonna make me say it?
Fine, rotate the corn another third of a turn, so the remaining uncharred side can join its happily-blackened family of kernels.
Once the corn has sufficiently blackened on each side, start pulling the corn off the grill. Give it a quick turn through the compound butter in the pan, and push it off to one side of the pan.
Do this for all the corn, so the pan is full, and each ear is happily glistening with herbaceous butter. Cover the pan with the foil, tightly.
Put the pan back on the grill, on the cooler side. Use the hot side for whatever animal protein, hardy tofu (LOL – tofu!!), or gluten-free vegan bean burger (seriously, stop–you’re killin’ me) you plan to serve.
While your carnivorous feast cooks to medium-rare or medium (the only two real options), the corn will be steaming in that herb butter, and the moisture the heat has caused the kernels to expel (corn spit — funny).
Once you’ve finished grilling, take the entire pan of corn off the grill. Take it back inside. CAREFULLY peel back the foil. Superheated steam will come out. Having your flesh in the way will offer further medium-rare dining options for the carnivores in your house, or zombies marauding through the ‘hood, so you might want to keep your fingers at some distance.
Or poke a few holes in the top of the foil so the steam escapes first, then peel it back.
While wearing a fluorescent safety vest, you gormless ninny.
Saddle up, peel it back, and deal with the consequences.
The corn will smell tasty enough to attract crows from three states over. It will be charred, tender, and glistening with butter and bits of herbaceous deliciousness.
You have choices: right off the cob in the traditional manner, or sheared from the cob, like alpaca from your favorite llama, for oldsters with dentures, or youngsters presently wearing dental appliances I paid for.
If you have leftovers, charred corn salsa is wonderful, although not a recipe I’ll be covering here today.
Ditto charred corn chowder, with bacon, leeks, and potatoes.
Hey, that gives me an idea . . .