Tue Jul 3, 2012
After eight years of the Meatwave, it's blatantly obvious that I don't shy away from grilling just about anything. My recipe arsenal is a conquering force, perpetually expanding its reach and power. Still, when it comes to the major grilling holidays—Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day— I'm with the populous, nothing beats hot dogs and hamburgers with a side of grilled corn. This is the trifecta of the backyard barbecue, and no matter what craziness I throw at my grill, there will always be a strong affinity for the classics. The only problem is my wandering mind still can't leave well enough alone, which I guess isn't such a bad thing, because it came up with this Italian-style grilled corn.
Now I've been told that Italians aren't big on corn, but this idea was mainly born out of a desire to take the process of Mexican-style corn and introduce new flavors—Italian was chosen due to an excess of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano I had on hand from my cheesy meatballs.
The first switch to happen was the creation of the slathering sauce. With Mexican corn, this is a simple mayo and cayenne mixture, but I went with a slightly more complex combo here, creating a compound butter of garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
The process of the corn itself didn't change though. I stuck with my trusty light butter and seasoning, wrapping in foil, and grilling for about 20 minutes. I have yet to have a corn that hasn't come off the grill delicious and ready to eat yet with this method.
The only fault you may find occasionally is a lack of charring. An overly charred ear tends to be dry and burnt tasting, but just the right amount gives the corn that little extra magic of the grill. If you want a little more char on the corn, simply unwrap it from the foil and place it directly over the flames, and in minutes you'll have some beautifully browned kernels.
With the corn finished, the ears got a hefty slathering of garlic butter, then rolled in a cheesy mixture of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano—replacing the Cotija in the Mexican version.
The end result was a success. While not as bold as my Mexican inspiration, the garlic butter gave a nice bite and slight heat to the ears, while the cheese added a saltiness and nuttiness along with a little texture. These stood against the sweet kernels, whose juicy explosions still dominated the flavor department. If you're like me and apt to mess with a classic on a Fourth of July cookout, this little mix of traditional and new strikes a nice balance that I'm sure your guests will find comforting and surprising at the same time.
Italian-Style Grilled Corn
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 40 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Garlic Butter
- 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 4 ears of corn, husked
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
- To make the garlic butter, whisk together 8 tablespoons butter, garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Lightly butter the corn with 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Wrap ears individually in aluminum foil.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the foiled corn on the grill and cook until tender and slightly charred, about 20 minutes, turning 4 times during cooking. Remove from the grill and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Mix Parmesan and Pecorino together cheeses on a large plate. Open the foiled corn, slather each ear in the garlic butter, roll in the cheese mixture, and serve.