Grilled corn delivers a nutty sweet and smoky flavor, perfect for summer's easy going mood. Roasting the corn in the husk over charcoal or wood not only highlights corn's sweetness by gently coaxing and caramelizing the natural sugars, but adds a mild smokiness to the juicy kernels. Homemade butter is surprisingly easy to make, and only takes 20 minutes with a handheld or standing mixer. Using fresh, local cream creates an ultra creamy consistency.
The trick to removing corn silk
Removing corn silk is undoubtedly the most cumbersome part of preparing corn on the cob, mainly because the strands are broken when the husk is removed, leaving stragglers embedded between the kernels. The silk isn't actually attached to the kernels -- they're just stuck. By keeping the long silky strands in tact, they can be easily separated, with minimal after-shuck clean up.
Pull the husks back (but do not remove if roasting the corn within the husks) to expose the corn silk. Part the silk at the very top of the corn, furthest from the stem, by grabbing the top of the silk and dividing it in half with your hands, similar to how you would part human hair for pig tails. Hold the two sections of silk in each hand and pull away from the corn, removing in one large chunk.
Fire roasted summer corn with homemade saffron citrus butter
- 1 quart of heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
- 6 ears local, organic corn on the cob
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the butter:
- Add the cream to a large glass or non-reactive bowl. Beat on low speed until the cream thickens slightly and then increase the speed to medium/high. The cream will go through many stages of thickness, and then, after about 15 to 17 minutes, will begin to break.
- The cream will take on a soft, pale yellow color and begin to become chunky. If you turn the beater off at this point, you'll see the mixture starting to clump and weep. Turn the speed to medium/low at this point, or you'll end up with buttermilk all over your kitchen (and you) when the cream breaks. Keep going until you hear a slosh!
- Gather the solid butter and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Pour off the liquid and set aside. Return the butter to the mixing bowl and add the salt, saffron, zest and parsley. Mix on low speed until well blended. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Or, scoop onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a cylinder shape, chill until firm.
- Stages of cream while making butter:
- Starts to thicken
- Coats the back of a spoon
- Almost soft peaks
- Soft peaks
- Stiff peaks
- Super stiff, like chilled frosting would be
- Slosh! Fat and water physically separate and the butter is left sitting in a pool of buttermilk
Make the corn:
- Prepare the grill for indirect grilling: Heat is concentrated on the sides of the grill, rather than then middle -- and the food items are placed in the middle cool spot, rather than directly over the heat source.
- Pull back the husks and remove the silk from the corn (see instructions below). Soak a large bath towel with cool water and ring out until still wet, but not dripping with water.
- Pull the husks back over the ears of corn and place on half of the wet towel, in a single layer. Fold the other half of the towel over the corn and let this sit for 10 to 15 minutes to moisten the husks.
- Remove the corn from the towel and place each ear within the cool spot on the grill. When the husks begin to char and dry out, typically about 6 minutes, rotate the corn and flip to cook the other side. Cook for another 6 minutes and remove from heat.
- Just before serving, pull the husks away from the corn. Discard, or leave the husks on for presentation.
- Slather with the compound butter and serve with additional salt and pepper to taste.