Grilling corn on the cob is a beloved summer tradition that enhances the natural sweetness and smoky flavor of this delicious vegetable. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or just enjoying a simple cookout, knowing how to grill corn on the cob can take your outdoor cooking skills to the next level. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explore the various methods and techniques for grilling corn on the cob to perfection, whether you prefer it with a classic buttery finish or something more adventurous.
Selecting and Preparing the Corn
Choose Fresh Corn: To get the best results, start with fresh corn on the cob. Look for corn with bright green husks, plump kernels, and a fresh, earthy scent. The kernels should be tightly packed and not look dried out.
Husk and Remove Silks: Before grilling, remove the husks and silks from the corn. Begin by peeling back the husks, but do not remove them entirely. Gently remove the silks, taking care not to damage the kernels. Once the silks are removed, pull the husks back over the corn to cover it.
Soak the Corn: Soaking the corn before grilling helps prevent the husks from burning and allows the corn to steam as it cooks. Fill a large container or sink with cold water and immerse the corn with the husks on. Let them soak for 15-30 minutes.
Preparing the Grill
Preheat the Grill: Start by preheating your grill to medium-high heat (around 350-400°F or 175-200°C). If you’re using a charcoal grill, ensure the coals are evenly distributed and have a consistent layer of gray ash.
Clean and Oil the Grates: Clean the grill grates thoroughly with a wire brush or grill brush to remove any residue from previous cookouts. After cleaning, lightly oil the grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to prevent the corn from sticking.
There are two primary methods for grilling corn on the cob: grilling with the husks and grilling without the husks. Both methods have their advantages and can be tailored to your preferences.
Grilling with the Husks
Remove from Soak and Season: Take the corn out of the water and shake off excess moisture. Season the corn with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper for added flavor.
Re-cover with Husks: After seasoning, pull the husks back over the corn to cover it once again. The wet husks will help create steam during cooking, ensuring the corn is tender and flavorful.
Secure with Twine or Husk Leaves: To prevent the husks from burning and to keep the corn secure, you can use kitchen twine or torn husk leaves to tie the husks together at the top. This step is optional but can be helpful.
Place on the Grill: Carefully place the corn on the grill grates over direct heat. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning the corn occasionally to ensure even cooking. The husks may char and turn brown, but this is normal.
Test for Doneness: To check if the corn is ready, peel back a small section of the husk and pierce a kernel with a fork. The corn should be tender and juicy when done.
Grilling without the Husks
Season and Wrap in Foil: After removing the husks and silks, season the corn with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also experiment with different seasonings like chili powder, garlic powder, or grated parmesan for added flavor. Wrap each ear of corn in aluminum foil, ensuring it’s completely sealed.
Place on the Grill: Put the foil-wrapped corn directly on the grill grates over medium-high heat. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the corn is tender and lightly charred.
Basting and Flavoring Options
Basting with Butter: For the classic buttery flavor, baste the corn with melted butter during the last few minutes of grilling. You can also add a sprinkle of salt and fresh herbs like chopped parsley, cilantro, or chives for extra flair.
Spicy Lime Butter: Create a zesty twist by combining melted butter with lime juice, chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne. Baste the corn with this mixture for a spicy kick.
Parmesan and Herb Topping: After grilling, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, or rosemary, over the hot corn for a savory finish.
Mexican Street Corn (Elote): Spread a mixture of mayonnaise, chili powder, lime juice, and crumbled queso fresco (or feta cheese) over grilled corn for a flavorful Mexican street corn experience.
Serving and Enjoying
Rest and Serve: Allow the grilled corn to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute, making each bite more flavorful and satisfying.
Garnish and Customize: Offer various toppings, such as extra butter, grated cheese, hot sauce, or additional seasonings, so everyone can customize their corn to their liking.
Grilling corn on the cob is a fantastic way to elevate the flavors of this summertime favorite. Whether you prefer the classic buttery version or want to experiment with more adventurous seasonings and toppings, you can create a delectable dish that will be a hit at any cookout or barbecue. With the right selection, preparation, and grilling techniques, you’ll savor the sweet, smoky taste of perfectly grilled corn on the cob all summer long.