by Paula Marcoux
Just-picked corn on the cob needs no special attention before roasting. Just plunk it over, or directly on, mellow hardwood coals. You don’t need to soak the ears or fuss around with the silk—the tight fresh natural wrapper makes the perfect steaming package. Roast until the outer leaves are quite charred, flipping to cook all sides. (If the fire is really low, cover the grill loosely to create an oven situation.) When the outer husks are evenly and tastefully blackened, test an ear. Being mindful of the steam, strip back the husk a bit to check if the corn is cooked and tender. Leave the ears on the coals longer to initiate some caramelization and smoke, if you like.
These are great au naturel, but once you’ve eaten your first hundred for the season unadorned, you might be willing to branch out and try one of these treatments—suitable for cocktails, dessert, and everything in between. Each recipe is enough for four ears of corn, hot off the coals, and husks pulled back.
Cuervo On The Cob
This one’s best with corn that’s been allowed to caramelize a bit on the fire in the husk. The smoky flavor works well with the tequila.
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 4 slices lime
- tasty hot red pepper powder (New Mexico, Aleppo, smoked Spanish…)
- kosher salt
Put tequila in a small dish. Allow each guest to anoint his or her ear of hot caramelized corn with a lime slice dipped in tequila. Sprinkle with red pepper and salt lavishly, or to taste.
Returning the glazed corn to the grill over very low heat results in an irresistible finish.
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon heavy or whipping cream
Mix together and brush on hot steamy corn. Return to grill over dying embers. Cook slowly on all sides until golden brown.
Ural Ears Or Genghis Corn
- 2 tablespoons grated white onion
- freshly ground black pepper
- a few sprigs dill, minced
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 ounces dry sheep’s milk cheese or feta, finely grated
Stir onion, pepper, and dill into butter. Brush on hot corn and sprinkle with cheese on all sides.
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon southeast Asian fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger root
- 2 whole cloves
- a grating of nutmeg
- six large leaves basil, minced
Mix all the ingredients except the basil in a small pan. Simmer a few minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat and add basil.
Brush on hot corn and return the ears to low grill to caramelize a bit on all sides. Brush with sauce again as they come off the grill.
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon good curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt• 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- about 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon ghee or neutral oil, like canola or peanut
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or mint
Measure all the ingredients and have them ready to go.
Heat a heavy frying pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the oil and heat through. Toss in mustard seeds and stir once, cover, and lower heat. Count to 10. Add curry, cayenne, and salt; stir until they sizzle. Add tamarind and sugar (or plum jelly) and water. Stir and cook until a syrupy consistency is achieved. If too thin, simmer for a second; if too thick, dilute with more water.
Brush the sauce on steaming hot corn and roll in cilantro or mint.