Corn on the cob is a quintessential cookout companion. Stovetop, oven-roasted, open fire or grilled, this hand-held staple will be part of many an upcoming Labor Day celebration. (The best corn on the cob I’ve ever had came from the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market, shucked, clean and ready for the pot. It was pretty divine as corn goes, an elevation from the frozen grocery version. A visit to your area farmers’ market should yield some fresh ears.)
We can always fall back on classic stovetop prep, of course, but there are so many easy reinventions to take your Labor Day (or any day) side to another level, especially during grill season.
Hot off the grill
Before getting into tasty toppings, we start with a review of basic grill cooking, courtesy of Bobby Flay at foodnetwork.com. After heating the grill to medium, pull the outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away all silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold the husks back into place, and put the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes. This provides extra moisture for cooking.
Remove the ears from the water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every five minutes, or until the kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. (One or two practice runs will tell you whether you need to tweak the cook time for your grill.) Remove the husks, add butter and chow down.
All well and good, of course, but here are four more versions from Food Network that could make your corn the talk of the table:
n Brush cooked corn with rendered bacon fat, then coat the cobs in diced bacon, panko and fresh chopped basil.
n A sweet and spicy version: Coat grilled corn in a chipotle-honey butter, made by combining softened butter with honey and chipotle puree.
n An oriental twist: Thoroughly combine soft butter and miso paste. Brush the mixture on the grilled corn and sprinkle with nori and togarahi, a common Japanese spice mixture containing red chili pepper, roasted orange peel and ground ginger.
n Brush grilled corn with mayonnaise before adding a sprinkle of cayenne and crumbled Cotija cheese, a hard cheese that originated in Mexico.
If grilling isn’t an option and you still want a distinctive taste, try oven-roasted corn. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Remove husks and silks from each ear. Butter the ears and wrap each one in foil. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast 20 to 25 minutes.
Jazz up stovetop, too
Determined to boil? Give stovetop corn on the cob a leg up. Fill a large pot about three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, dissolving the sugar. Gently place six ears of corn into the boiling water, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the corn cook in the hot water until tender, about 10 minutes. Allrecipes.com says this can produce some of the sweetest, tastiest corn.
Imaginative variations of corn on the cob can make your Labor Day more delicious. Give one a try. And remember, wherever you live in the Golden Triangle, there’s a farmers’ market near you.
JALAPENO-LIME CORN ON THE COB
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
1 stick butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 small jalapeno, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 ears corn on the cob, husked
1 slice bread, of any kind
(Source: Rachel Ray)
BARBECUE BUTTER FOR CORN ON THE COB
Makes butter for 8 ears
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
(Source: Bobby Flay; foodnetwork.com)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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