Sweet, salty, and a little bit smokey, grilled corn is one of summer's easiest side dishes.
Although I grew up eating sweet corn every summer, somehow, I had never eaten it grilled until last summer. Unbelievable! I started humming "something tells me I'm into something good" at the first bite. It was sweet, salty, and a little bit smokey with nice little zings of mild heat from the black pepper.
I asked our friend, Kali, what magic she'd worked to make it so tasty and she looked at me like I was just a little bit crazy, "You mean the corn? It's really simple – just olive oil, salt, and black pepper."
That sounded like my kind of recipe – quick, easy and delicious – so I gave it a try soon afterwards. The results were equally good! I especially love how the mild heat of the fresh pepper is heightened by the grilling – it gives it a nice little kick.
Now that I've had it this way, I don't think I will ever go back to cooking corn in boiling water unless there is a hurricane or tornado preventing me from reaching the grill.
My recommendations for maximum eating pleasure are as follows:
1. Buy your corn from a local farmer and try to get it at the farmers market to ensure that it was picked very recently (this will also benefit your local farms and farmers!) The fresher your corn is, the sweeter it will be as the sugar starts turning into starch as soon as it's picked.
2. Don't skimp on the salt and pepper.
3. Give it a nice light char – I know burning food is bad for you but the flavor it imparts is incredible and since this is a vegetable, I doubt the charring is carcinogenic.
And please do not be afraid to play with this recipe! I sometimes add a mixture of chopped fresh herbs from the garden – oregano, basil, and cilantro – and it's delicious. My cousin, Nina, (an honest to goodness chef who is sometimes on TV!) does a riff on the ever-popular Mexican street corn by slathering her grilled corn with chipotle mayo and splashing a bit of lime juice over it. And those are just two ideas out of many, many more possibilities.
I love to have grilled corn on hand to add to salads, salsas, soups and more so I usually make a few extra ears and then cut the kernels off the cob and store them in a glass Tupperware in the fridge (or freeze them, depending on when I think I'll need them).
Fresh sweet corn (get as many ears as you think you will need for the crowd you're serving)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Shuck the corn, removing the husks and any silk left clinging to the cobs.
2. Preheat and clean your grill. You'll want even, medium heat.
3. Rub the ears of corn with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – don't skimp on any of these things!
4. Place the ears on the grill and cook, turning with tongs every 2 minutes or so, to ensure even cooking on all sides, until lightly browned. Remove and serve or sprinkle with some of the yummy additions mentioned above and then serve!