Cookbook Profile

Grilled Corn


Serves 8 to 10


Really good fresh sweet corn is in season for so short a time that we've all learned to gorge on it while the gorgin's good. After you've had it boiled and served with a smear of unsalted butter, it's time to branch out a bit.

Sweet corn varieties—like Silver Queen, Purdue Super Sweet, Country Gentleman, or Peaches and Cream—are mighty fine on the grill. Fresh picked is best, so go to your farmer's market in the morning or pick from your own garden, then keep the corn cool until you're ready to grill that same day; that will slow the natural sugars in corn from converting to starch.

Grilled corn is a crowd-pleaser at country festivals, so, with that in mind, we think it's a great idea to grill a lot of it at one time. Invite friends and family over for a cookout, allowing extra ears for those who will eat two or grill for leftovers. If you do have leftovers, cut the kernels off the cob and refrigerate in a covered container for 3 to 4 days.

Our grilled corn is great just as it comes off the grill, but if you're feeling decadent, then by all means slather on the butter or drizzle on a flavored oil.

12 ears corn, in the husk
1/2 cup olive oil
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Pull back the husks from each ear and remove the corn silk. Pull the husks back over the corn, put in a large bucket of cold water, and soak for 30 minutes while you prepare your fire.

2. Prepare a hot fire in the grill.

3. When ready to grill, remove the corn from the water and drain. Pull a long piece of the husk off each ear of corn, then pull the husks back and tie with the long piece of husk. Drizzle the kernels on each ear with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the corn on the grill, with the husk "handles" off the fire. Grill for 2 to 4 minutes total, turning by hand with the husk handles or with grill tongs every 30 seconds or so. You want a slight browning or charring on the kernels, but not blackened corn.


Crowning Glories

Grilled corn is delicious all by itself or slathered with:

Smoked Tomato Butter (see book for recipe)
Chive Pesto (recipe below)


Southwestern-Style Grilled Corn Relish

Make this when you have 2 leftover ears of grilled corn, then serve it with grilled fish or chicken and Poblano Cream Sauce or Smoked Garlic Cilantro Cream Sauce for a fabulous meal in minutes. It's also good in a grilled chicken burrito. Cut the kernels off the corn and combine with 1 medium-size ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced; 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped; the juice of 1 lime; 1/2 teaspoon salt; and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, turning every hour. Makes about 2 cups.


Grilled Corn and Smoked Vegetable Pudding

Here's the classic updated with a bit of char and a kiss of smoke. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a greased baking dish, combine 2 cups grilled corn kernels and 2 cups mixed smoked vegetables (tomato, bell peppers, onions, garlic, etc.). Top with 1 clove garlic, minced, and 8 ounces finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together 2 cups milk, 4 large eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, then pour over the corn mixture. Bake until bubbling and set, 50 to 60 minutes, and serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.


Grilled Corn Layered Salad

Our first encounters with layered salads came in the early 1970s when we started attending and giving wedding showers and needed luncheon dishes that required minimal expense and culinary skill. The layered salad filled the bill. Here is one adapted from many that gets rave reviews. Prepare it in a glass bowl to show off the layers. In a large 3-quart salad bowl, spread 3 cups chopped fresh spinach. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Have ready 1 pound sliced bacon, fried crisp and crumbled; 6 sliced hard-boiled eggs; 1 cup thinly sliced celery; 2 cups grilled corn kernels; and 1/2 cup sliced green onions. Layer beginning with the crumbled bacon, then the eggs, celery, corn, and green onions.

In a small bowl, combine 1 package dry ranch-style salad dressing, 1 cup light sour cream and 1 cup mayonnaise. Spread over the top of the salad to seal. Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over that. Refrigerate overnight covered tightly with plastic wrap. Toss just before serving. Serves 8 to 12.


Chive Pesto

Karen's vegetable and herb garden consists of four raised beds. One of the beds is bordered with onion chives and another with garlic chives. "That's a lot of chives!" wisecracks Judith, until Karen made this pesto at a class they taught at KitchenArt in West Lafayette, Indiana. "Put this in our BBQ Queen book, please," praised Judith. "This would be a fabulous condiment on a great grilled burger or chicken breast." 'Nuf said.

2 cups chopped fresh chives, garlic, or onion
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed or roughly chopped
3/4 cup olive oil, regular or extra virgin
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, process the chives, pine nuts, and garlic together until they become a smooth paste. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the pesto solidifies. Add the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and pulse just to combine. Use immediately or spoon into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Will keep in the refrigerator 4 or 5 days or frozen up to 6 months.


Buy the Book!


The BBQ Queens' Big Book of Barbecue
by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig
Harvard Common Press
$32.95 cloth 1-55832-296-5
$18.95 paper 1-55832-297-3
Recipe reprinted by permission.


The BBQ Queens' Big Book of Barbecue



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This page created May 2005