Food 101: How To Grill Roast Corn On The Cob
It pains me to say this, but I will be the first to admit there’s not a lot of foods America can call claim to which aren’t disgusting amalgamations of street trash and bacon. Many of our biggest, most popular foodstuffs here are derived from other countries, brought over by immigrants and modified to match our own culture. It’s all yummy, but it does make me shed a patriotic tear of sadness once in a while to think about. Fortunately, there are still a few foods here and there which we can proudly take credit for here in ‘Murrica, one of the most notable ones being corn.
If you’ve spent the majority of your life under a large, corn-less rock, you should know that it was originally cultivated in Mesoamerica by native tribes for thousands of years for everything ranging from cornmeal flour to whole corn kernels to stews. Corn on the cob, as a meal, is a perennial treat enjoyed mostly during the summertime due to fresh, local corn typically coming into season at that time. It consists of, well, a cooked cob of corn. That’s it. It’s beautifully simple.
Interestingly enough, we as a people have decided to work backwards in terms of preparing corn on the cob. The easiest and simplest way it was prepared ages ago was by just roasting it over an open flame. Corn is chock full of starch and sugars, and as such they heat up into a crisp, juicy, sweet treat that can be so good it doesn’t even need any added flavor. However over time, due to either laziness or modernity, the norm has been to simply boil the corn to prepare it. Sure, it gets the job done, but since when in the history of mankind has boiling something ever made it taste better?
Instead, we opt for the more traditional preparation of an open flame. While a camp fire or fire-pit might be true to roots, it’s a bit more realistic to roast them on a barbecue grill. Why should you roast your corn instead of boiling it?
- The high heat from the grill cooks the sugars within the corn more easily, producing a sweeter, better flavor. The corn also gains that dark, earthy roasty flavor from the grill.
- This method doesn’t require you to tediously clean the silk and husk off the corn.
- It looks cool.
- There’s more room for more corn on a barbecue than a pot.
- It’s somewhat faster than boiling the corn, and overall just easier.
Grilled Roast Corn on the Cob
- Fresh corn
- Salt (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Butter (optional)
- Seasonings (optional, see below)
- Gather as many corn as you need to serve. A good rule of thumb is one more than the number of people you’re serving since a cob is usually enough for each person but there’s always one guy who wants two. Turn your barbecue/grill on to high heat and cover while it warms up.
- Peel off just the top, dark green layers of husk from the corn. Do NOT clean all the husk off. You want a thin layer of husk to protect the corn from direct heat/flames, so take just enough off that the corn will be able to cook, like the top two leaves.
- Next, using your trusty kitchen shears (or a knife or your hands or whatever), cut off both the bottom stalk chunk at the base of the corn, and the tip where all the silk and husk gather at the top of the cob. Your corn should look generic and inconspicuous, see above.
- Arrange your corns on the grill in whatever pattern you like. Just make sure they have at least an inch or two of space between them so that there’s room for the heat to escape.
- Grill your corns for about 10 minutes until the husk is nice and browned on the outside. Flip them over onto their other side and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the bottoms are the same.
- Remove your corn and serve with the seasoning or topping of your choice, or simply eat them plain on their own. Simply peel the husk and silk away and enjoy!
Possibly the biggest perk, my favorite at least, of all this is when you go to eat your corn, the husk and silk will all peel away really easily in nice sheets. Some of my most uncherished summer memories as a child involved being tasked with cleaning the corn at family parties. My immaculate nature led to this becoming a ridiculous chore as I peeled every last tiny little fiber of silk from between the kernels. It sucked. But no more! Roast corn sort of cooks the silk together and lifts it away from the corn itself, so it all comes off in a fluid motion.
- In terms of what to put on your corn, you can definitely eat it plain as I mentioned, but if you want butter then by all means spread butter on. For that classic country-fair flavor, you should melt a stick of butter and then dip the corn into the liquid before eating.
- For a healthier alternative, simply sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on your corn. The other advantage of this is that the salt and pepper sticks to the kernels a lot easier than butter will, so you only need to apply it once and then enjoy.
- Other seasonings that go well on roast corn include lemon-pepper, rosemary, parmesan cheese, tabasco sauce, chilli pepper, to name a handful.