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Grill Corn Smarter

Alex Van Buren

Grill Corn Smarter

Husk-on grilled corn. Photo credit: Tara Striano, StockFood

Yes, yes, in most of the country, it’s not yet grilled corn season. But sometimes sometimes you Just. Can’t. Wait. July and August and the beach and flip-flops seem like they’re a million miles away, and no way are you gonna delay goin’ whole-hog CORN. It’s golden, and alluring, and with butter and salt there’s almost no better food in the universe. Here’s how to grill it right, from a chef whose vegetable prowess we’ve admired before. Andrea Reusing, cookbook author and chef-owner of Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, calls grilled corn “my favorite thing.”

Reusing reminds us that freshness determines the cooking approach: “It depends on how fresh the corn is. If it’s from the farm across street, you could even eat it raw, but Costco corn? You gotta cook it.” The mother of two laughs that with the help of “time and child labor—the meticulous hands” of her little kids—she’d employ a de-silking, soaking, husk-on method. Here’s how it goes:

1. Get that cornsilk off. Take your time. Pull the husk down to the base of the corn but don’t rip it off, and get as much of that pale yellow or white silk off as you possibly can. (Corn sticks in your teeth plenty all on its own. Don’t make it worse.)

2. Pull the husk back up and tie it on up. Re-clothe the naked corn cob in its husk. “If you’re super-insane,” laughs Reusing, pull off a tiny strip of the husk in order to tie the husk back on to the cob (which is what she does.)

3. Soak. Pop those ears into cold water for 20 minutes. You’ll get moister corn that has steamed from inside its husk, says Reusing. Read: Juicier kernels. 

4. Grill. Set the husk-on corn on a medium-hot grill set over coal or wood, and cook about four to five minutes per side, rolling periodically, about 12 minutes total, says Reusing. Wait till you spy a charred husk, the occasional charred kernel, and “an exposed kernel [that] should be juicy and very hot” if you pierce it with a fork. (A gas grill, which typically runs less hot, might require a bit more time; Reusing prefers coal or wood.)

5. Serve. You can go the Mexican route and bust out the fixings for elotesbut no one minds corn straight-up and delicious. Pro tip: Chop small pieces of bread and serve alongside room temperature butter. Guests can spread butter on their corn that much more easily.

Here’s hoping corn o’clock arrives in your neighborhood soon. Happy flossing!