I often find myself drifting slowly and yet surely to the grilled corn stand in the street fairs of New York City, even though in the seriously hot heat, it’s not necessarily the best choice for a snack. The cobs of corn that lay side by side on the grill, being brushed with butter and then rolled in spices handed to me still cooking is a treat that is sadly often better in my head than in my mouth. Too often the corn is dry and burnt in some spots and not even cooked in others and the spice rub is so overwhelming that I can’t taste the lovely sweetness of those kernels bursting in my mouth. I set out to create a grilled corn that gave me the flavor and the textures that I was looking for. I started out with a rub.
For 10 -12 ears
¼ cup ancho chili powder (I use ancho because it has a much smokier flavor than other options.)
3 tablespoons cumin
2.5 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp onion powder
1.5 tsp ground oregano
Juice and zest from one lime
1 stick sweet cream butter room temperature
5 tablespoons course sea salt
Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl. This mix can also be used as a taco mix. Once the spices are blended add the butter to them and mix. Now add the lime juice and the lime zest and mix. In a separate dish have your sea salt ready.
When you clean the corn you are going to want to peel the outer darker green leaves off, leaving the inner green ones. Once the tougher leaves are gone peel the softer light green leaves down and away from the corn, but do not pull them off, pull the corn silk off the corn.
Once your corn is clean, rub the corn with the butter (I used my hands) and the spice mixture, once covered in spicy buttery deliciousness, sprinkle on all sides with the coarse sea salt. You can roll the ears in the sea salt but I found that method picked up too much salt and I had to brush off some of it off, but either way will work. Now that your corn is seasoned pull the leaves back up, there will be gaps where the corn is showing through which is just the way it should be.
Now take your ears of corn and place them on the grill. What the outer leaves do is steam the corn in its own moisture so that all the corn gets cooked and the parts of the corn that actually touch the grill get nice and caramelized. This I found put an end to the raw burnt conundrum of grilled corn. Cook for 6-8 minutes and then turn the corn, cook for 6-8 minutes and depending on the heat of the grill your corn should be ready. Corn cooking times will vary widely depending on the tenderness of the corn itself, tougher corns can take as long as 45 minutes to cook. Once it cools slightly, pull the leaves all the way down and serve.
If you have any left over, cut the kernels from the cob and mix in a bowl with diced tomatoes, red onion, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime or lemon juice, salt and a little chili pepper for a quick roast corn salsa.