What a corny idea!
Corn on the cob is an undeniable summertime staple.
From the wiry young'uns to wise ol' Gramps, seldom does anyone pass up the corn-on-the-cob platter on the dinner buffet.
There's hardly a more delightful sight than that of a child digging his or her teeth into a cob of seasonal sweet corn, with little yellowish-white chunks of corn kernel flesh decorating their opposing cheeks, and little fingers clutching the narrow edges of the buttery vegetable.
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I have vivid memories of enjoying corn on the cob; not only eating it, but cleaning it, too.
Now and then, someone from the ranch would drop off a paper grocery bag brimming with sweet corn.
I took my corn cleaning job seriously. The setup was practical and neat: my station was on the back patio where I couldn't make a giant mess. On the left was the big bag of corn, the middle a trash bucket for silks and husks, and the right was a pan for the cleaned corn. The three-part system accommodated my "firstborn child" predilection-for-order just perfectly!
The sweet corn was grown on the edge of the field used to grow our "cow corn," and it was only for personal use -- not public sale.
This being the case, it was not treated with anything to prevent bugs from getting into the husks. Thus, the giant worm in every sixth or seventh ear of corn came as no surprise.
In fact, for this farm girl, a wormy ear of corn was an ideal apparatus for pestering little brothers. Around the yard we'd run, big sister the tyrant chasing the squealing little brother with a nasty little vegetable worm weapon. Finally, Mom would intervene, chuck the violated corn, save the little whiner and start cooking the rest of the cleaned corn. As dinner commenced, in the midst of my solicitation of compliments on my corn cleaning skills, all of the terrorizing was forgotten as we blissfully munched on our buttery, salty, sweet and juicy corn.
Ah, life on the farm.
While fresh, seasonal corn needs little more than butter and salt to be delicious, there are those of us who just can't leave well enough alone.
We happen to be called foodies!
I fell in love with corn all over again at a restaurant in Denver by the name of Jack-n-Grill. It is the most amazing new Mexican restaurant, and their corn was just one of many reasons I became totally addicted to the food. It was full of lime, hot sauce, butter, Parmesan cheese, and, oh my, chili powder and other delicious secret ingredients.
I pursued my own version of Jack-n-Grill's corn as soon as corn on the cob was in season again. While the final recipe is quite a deviation from the original, it retains all of the important components: spicy, smoky, salty, tangy, beautiful and unexpectedly textural. So yummy, it could almost be a main course.
The trick to variety in flavor is grilling the corn in the husk. It is important to clean off the outer layer of coarse husk, and keep the 1-2 layers of soft inner husk attached.
The inner husk will pull back easily, allowing you to clean off the silks, season the corn, then pull the husk back over the corn. This method gives the corn a delicious smoky flavor, but protects the corn from getting too black. It will steam in its own "skin," and will also retain its seasonings.