Grilled Corn 3-Ways

Grilled Corn 3-Ways

Whoever said corn should be knee high by the 4th of July was way behind the curve for those of us south of the Mason Dixon line. I saw sweet yellow corn of the season at two different farmers markets last weekend, just in time, since no Fourth of July barbecue or picnic is complete without corn on the cob. It’s as all-American as red-checked table cloths, lemonade, baked beans, potato salad and apple pie.

This year for the 4th of July, consider taking classic corn on the cob to a new level by serving it with three flavored butters: a maple-sweetened peach jalapeño butter, a savory barbecue blend, and a simple fresh herb mix. I love all three for very different reasons!

The best corn on the cob is cooked on the grill in its own husks. The insulation creates a sort of mini steam oven, leading to tender, perfectly cooked kernels. You can accomplish the same thing by wrapping the corn in aluminum foil, but the presentation isn’t as impressive. The corn looks perfectly rustic when it’s served with the grilled husks folded around the base of each ear.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
  • 8 ears corn
  • Kosher salt
  • Peach Jalapeño Butter
  • BBQ Butter
  • Fresh Herb Butter
  1. Heat the grill to medium.
  2. Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base and remove the silk from each ear of corn. Fold husks back into place, and place the ears of corn in a clean sink filled with cold water for 10 minutes, ensuring each ear of corn is submerged. This will keep the husks from scorching as the corn cooks on the grill.
  3. Remove corn from water and dry the outside of the stalks with a hand towel just enough that the husks aren’t dripping wet anymore.
  4. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Fold down the husks and eat the corn on the cob. Serve with three butters, spread on the corn while hot.

3 Herbed butter recipes

The sweet and spicy peach jalapeño works surprisingly well with the sweetness of the corn, and can also be served with a nice hunk of whole wheat bread.

Peach Jalapeno Butter
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • Salt
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the jalapeños and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the peaches and maple syrup, turn heat down to medium low, and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. In a small serving container that holds at least ¼ cup, combine the peaches and jalapeños with the butter, stirring with a fork, and then smooth the finished product over with a knife.

The blend of spices in the barbecue blend mimics the smoky flavor of baby back ribs. In fact, if you’re in a hurry, you can use 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub instead of the individual spices listed in the recipe.

BBQ Butter
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ stick of butter softened at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. good prepared barbecue rub, or all of the following:
  • 2 tsp. Spanish paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the paprika, cayenne, cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute.

The fresh herb mix goes together easily and can used in so many other ways – for flavoring steamed vegetables, grilling fish, or spreading on toast.

Fresh Herb Butter
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and dill)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1. Combine in a small serving container with a fork. Smooth the top over with a butter knife before serving.
3 Herbed butter recipes

For serving, I spread the corn on a newspaper covered platter, using three star-shaped votive holders I found in a favorite antique store to hold the butters. They’re soft enough that it will mold to just about any shape, so it’s fun to think of creative ways to serve them – mini terra-cotta flower pots would work, and cookie cutters might be an option if you can fashion a stable bottom.

Elizabeth Milner blogs at three beans on a string, where she writes about affordable, local and sustainable cooking. She lives with her husband and two sons in Columbia, MD.