Kernels of Gold
One of summer’s highlights is the arrival of local corn. The best way to enjoy its natural sweetness is by grilling it. Mother Nature makes it easy by wrapping each cob in the perfect steaming vessel, the corn husk. Trim any silks extending from the husk and place the corn on the grill over direct heat. No soaking, no shucking, no peeling away of silks. Just grill them plain and simple, turning often, until the husks begin to char evenly. After removing from the grill, they’ll stay warm for quite a while, or peel the husks back right away using oven mitts. The silks will pull away with ease. If you want to go all “Martha” then tie the husks back into a bundle with a torn strip of husk to form a natural handle.
Now for the fun stuff, the butters and seasonings. Compound butters are great on corn. Blend softened butter with your favourite herbs and chill in the fridge up to several days in advance. Soften slightly before serving. You can blend in flavours like lemon zest, grated parmesan, cajun seasoning, jerk paste, curry or chili powder.
A fat-free option is to rub corn with a wedge of lemon or lime and season with salt and pepper. To be fancy, offer guests a variety of sea salts and smoked pepper.
If you want to keep things simple, brush corn with flavour infused oil or take that hot ‘n fresh cob and sprinkle with your favourite BBQ rub for a smoky, sweet treat. The juicy pop of those succulent kernels will have you saying, “Aw, shucks,” all summer long.
Prepare seasonings or compound butters ahead of time and consider offering a variety if you’re planning a party. Seasonings will keep all summer long in a well sealed container. Compound butters will keep for a week in the refrigerator. Stick with serving either butters or seasonings, but not both, so that your guests don’t become confused and end up putting a compound butter and a seasoning on at the same time. It could overpower the real star of the show… the fresh corn.
Offer two or three different sprinkles along with melted butter and wedges of lime to wet the corn. You can omit salt and offer it on the side, if desired.
- Hot Corn - chipotle powder, cumin, salt
- Twisted Corn - Epicentre Twisted Tongues (habanero & del arbol powders), cumin, salt
- Smoked Cobc - smoked sea salt and smoked black pepper
- Mexi Cobs - Goya Adobo seasoning (classic Mexican blends)
- Cajun Cobs - dry cajun seasoning
- Jerked Corn - dry jerk seasoning
- BBQ Rubbed Cobs - your favourite BBQ rub
- Corn by the Sea - lemon zest & dill with sea salt or seafood seasoning
- Steak Cobs - Chicago or Montreal steak seasoning
Get creative. Raid your spice rack for ideas. It’s a good opportunity to turn over your herbs and spices.
Allow butter to soften to room temperature. Whip in the desired seasonings. Transfer to a clean container, seal, and place in refrigerator to chill. You can also spoon out the softened, flavoured butter onto a piece of plastic wrap and then roll it up to form a log. Chill until hard and cut into round pats with a sharp knife warmed under hot water. If you’re presenting the butter in a small bowl or ramekin, allow it to come to room temperature. Make sure you keep the butter out of direct sunlight or high heat where it might separate.
For the butters below, start with a ½ cup or single stick of butter and add the flavourings to taste. You can add more butter if the mixture is too strongly flavoured.
- Smoky Chipotle Butter - chipotle powder, smoked black pepper, salt
- Mexi-Butter - minced fresh cilantro, roasted cumin powder, lime zest & salt
- Spanish Ancho Butter - ancho chile powder, sweet paprika, lemon zest, salt
- Indian Curry Butter - your favourite curry powder (sweet or hot) or curry paste, roasted cumin powder
- Thai Curry Butter - red or green Thai curry paste, dried galangal or grated fresh ginger, lime zest
- Moroccan Butter - ras al hanout or Moroccan seasoning, roasted cumin powder
- Jamaican Butter - Jerk paste, lime zest, finely chopped toasted coconut, optional
- Italian Butter - Italian seasoning blend or minced oregano, minced garlic, salt & red pepper flakes, optional
- Provençal Butter - herbs de provence or minced fresh tarragon, salt
- Cajun Butter - cajun seasoning, onion powder, minced fresh garlic
- Parm-Herb Butter - grated parmesan cheese, dried or fresh minced herbs
- Deviled Butter - dry mustard powder, lemon zest, paprika, salt and white pepper
- Chinese Red Butter - red pepper flakes, grated ginger, crushed Szechuan peppercorns, Chinese five spice, salt
- Garlic Lemon Herb Butter- minced fresh parsley & garlic, dried thyme, lemon zest, salt & pepper