Football Frenzy Part 2: Grilled Corn -- The Perfect Football Food For The Season On A Budget

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm driving through the country this past weekend, on my way to Little Girl's new school. She's starting kindergarten this year and I'm in full denial, but that's another blog entirely. Along the way, the fields are just covered with corn -- growing tall and proud, many people don't realize corn grows in Washington probably as easily as the blackberries. But I digress. I was instantly inspired to make some of my most favorite corn dishes. The top of the list? Simply corn grilled right in the husk then brushed with a compound butter and slathered with freshly grated cheese.
Nothing so simple and so tasty as a grilled corn. It's very easy to make and requires very little attention. It's a wonderful side dish to any grill, especially with football season upon us and tailgating in full force. It's very easy to prepare and to make, coupled with the lack of utensils needed make it a wonderful finger food. It pairs perfectly with sliders or wings and various dips. You can make how much or how little is needed and definitely use the leftovers in a salad or cornbread later. But honestly the best part is, it's a perfect budget-friendly entertaining food. I can get local corn for 4 ears for $1. For under $5 I can feed up to 10 people very well with this dish alone. Add some easy sliders and a quick dip and beer and I can entertain people for around $25 which is nothing.
It's also seasonal, which I love. Corn is coming into its own now as we transition from summer to my favorite season of all, autumn. Not only is it easy to find now but the corn is festive and brings the seasonal element into your party or dinner. It's just perfect.
Now for the grilling...
Why the husk? Because the husk = flavor. Tamales aren't put in corn husks because they look nice; it's because cooking the masa in the husk adds tremendous amount of flavor to the tamale. When grilling corn, you'll have to gently pull back the outer husks to expose the fine silk hairs. Remove those -- they'll come off easily, and then simply fold the husks back up onto the cob. At this point you have a choice -- for a more "corn" taste, wrap the cleaned husked corn in aluminum foil and then grill. For a smoky flavor, put them on the grill as is without the foil. The husks will get burned -- you want this -- to achieve that desired smell and flavor of char. To serve I make a simple compound butter -- butter flavored with salt and herbs -- that's spread right on the hot corn and then sprinkled with some freshly shredded cheese. This time I went Greek and used a butter flavored with oregano and salt, and the cheese was sharp mizithra. But you can use any herb and cheese flavor you love.
It was perfect.
If you're planning to tailgate in the next month or are firing up the grill anyway, this is perfect to add on. The corn can be prepped the night before, and the butter made days in advance. Just bring it to room temperature before serving to make it easier to spread. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn with Compound Butter and Cheese: Greek Style
6 corn in husks
1 stick unsalted butter, very soft at room temperature
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely minced
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
mizithra cheese for serving

Take the corn and peel back the husks, but be careful to keep the husks still attached to the base. Do not completely take the husks off the corn. Remove the silk hairs and discard. Take the husks and fold them back up onto the cobs. Wrap in aluminium foil if using.

To make the compound butter, combine the butter, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl with a fork. Mix well to combine. Take the butter mixture and place it in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap. Form the butter into a log shape, using the plastic wrap to help you if you need it. Wrap with the plastic and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also make this in advance and freeze the butter.

Preheat the grill to medium. Add your corn right on top of the grills and cook about 10 minutes, or until kernels turn bright yellow. If not using aluminum foil, don't be alarmed as the husks begin to char and turn black; this is normal and good. If you feel they're getting black too quickly, lower heat or move to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.

To serve, peel back the husks to expose the cob. Smear with the butter and then grate a generous amount of cheese on top. You can also grate the cheese in advance and offer the grilled corn on a platter with a bowl of the cheese and butter for people to help themselves.

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