Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


How to Grill Corn: Dos & Don’ts

By Steven Raichlen

  1. Do buy corn at farmers markets and farm stands—preferably the same day it was picked.
  2. Don’t refrigerate corn unless you have to. Chilling deadens the flavor.
  3. Do grill the corn the same day you buy it. The longer you wait, the more the natural sugar in the corn converts to starch.
  4. Don’t grill corn with the husk on. This steams the kernels when you want to roast them over a hot fire. Only direct exposure to the flame caramelizes the natural plant sugars, giving you that sweet smoky caramel flavor that makes grilled corn so miraculous.
  5. Do strip the husk back and tie it together under the ear to form a handle. Use a strip of cornhusk or a piece of butchers string to tie it back.
  6. Don’t burn this husk handle: Slide a grill shield (pictured above) or a folded sheet of aluminum foil under the husk to block the fire.
  7. Do grill the corn until the kernels are uniformly brown on all sides.
  8. Don’t put on too much butter or oil at the beginning. It will drip onto the coals and cause a sooty fire. Instead, brush the ears lightly, then season with salt and pepper before grilling. Baste the corn with a little more butter as it grills and brush generously one fine time before serving.
  9. Do try varying the flavorings: from Japan’s sesame soy butter to Mexico’s mayonnaise, grated cheese, and chili powder.

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