I started our YouTube cooking channel almost six years ago, and the first video I shot was how to grill corn on the cob on a gas grill. We have now posted more than 130 instructional videos, and to this day, the corn on the cob video is the most popular. And then it dawned on me. I have never written an article about this topic, and the harvest of sweet corn is right around the corner, which makes the timing of this topic perfect.
This approach to preparing corn can be done on either a gas grill or a regular charcoal grill. In fact, it could probably be done in the oven, although I have never tried that.
First, buy the freshest sweet corn you can locate. Farmers markets are the best, although it's my understanding that the major supermarkets are pretty quick about getting produce from the field to the shelves. You will want to buy the corn with all of the leaves or the “husk” intact.
Peel back the leaves to the bottom of the ear of corn, but DO NOT pull the leaves off. They have to remain attached. (If you want to see the video I am referring to, go to www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay. You will see a small image of a cartoon house. To the right of that is a magnifying glass. Click on that and in the box that appears, type in “corn on the cob.” ) If you have done this correctly you have the leaves peeled down and all of the corn and silk exposed.
This is where it gets a bit tedious. Remove all the silk. Do you remember the term “Indian Burn” from when you were a kid, where you grabbed your buddy’s forearm with both hands and twisted in opposite ways to create a burning sensation? I know, not a politically correct term today, but that's what it was called back then. This is the same technique I use to remove the silk from the ear of corn.
Now, fold the leaves back up and around corn, trying to make it look like it's in its original state. Fill a sink with water and place the corn in the water. This is very important. Allow the corn to soak in the water for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Start your grill. If gas, medium to medium-high is fine. Once the corn has soaked long enough, place directly on the grill. The point of soaking the leaves is two-fold. The first is to slow down the drying process of the husk while it is cooking, which will minimize or delay the flare ups. The second is the steaming of the corn, and here's the really neat part. Even if you cook these on gas, you will still notice a smoky flavor, which will come from the husks themselves.
Each grill is a little different, but plan on grilling the corn for at least 30 minutes. I usually count on 45 minutes. Turn the corn every five to seven minutes or so and try to keep the lid closed as much as possible, which speeds up the cooking process. Towards the end you will have a few leaves flame up.
No biggie. Makes you look cool like you are really grilling something.
When done, the corn will still have some crunch to it and some of the kernels will be a little brown.
Serve on a platter with the husks still intact. I like to include Cajun butter, which is real unsalted butter that has been melted and then Cajun seasoning mixed it. It will harden again when at room temperature, but will be very easy to spread on the hot corn.
This is one of those side dishes you absolutely have to try this summer. Let me know how it turns out.
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQ-My-Way.com