Aww, Shucks! – Corn on the Cob

On Wednesdays, my morning drive includes not only the regular traffic of those headed to work, but the roadside is also dotted with slow-moving tractors and pick-up trucks headed for the produce auction. Each vehicle hauls a trailer which may be full of bright flowers, glistening zucchinis, or watermelon boxes filled to the brim with ears of corn, the husks waving like green flags in the wind. The last sight fills me with a warm contentedness because it means local corn on the cob season has started.

Until I lived in Central America, where corn is a staple at every meal, the only way that I had eaten corn on the cob was de-husked and boiled on the stove-top. While I was way down south, I learned that there are a myriad of other ways in which one can eat this starchy grain.

Grilled with the husk off. To grill corn on the cob with the husk off, remove the leaves and silk, spray with olive oil, and grill over medium-high heat. You can add seasonings after applying the oil for additional flavor. Cook until lightly charred.

Grilled with the husk on. Grilling this way will help prevent the corn from drying out, no aluminum foil needed. Place on grill and let the corn steam to sweet tenderness with some additional smoky flavor. You can also remove some of the outer leaves, which will allow more grilled flavor to pass through and may allow the corn underneath to char slightly. If you prefer, you can peel back the tips of the husks and remove the silk, allowing the point of the cob to char for the grilled affect.

Boiled with the husk on. In addition to the traditional manner of removing them beforehand, corn on the cob can also be boiled with the husk on, merely remove a few of the outer leaves before putting into the pot. Central Americans felt this method gave the corn added flavor.

Added to soup. Don’t balk at a delicious summer soup made with flavorful local ingredients, for summer time is the season to make some of the best dishes of the year because of the bounty of local produce. During my time in Central America, a brothy chicken or beef soup included large chunks of meat, vegetables, and cobs of corn broken up into thirds.

Of course, these are the simplest of variations. If you are a seasoned cook or wish for a specific flavor accent, there are thousands of recipes available so that your corn on the cob can take you around the world with your palate. For best flavor, just make sure your corn originated locally.


gabriellewheeler_profileBy Gabrielle L. Wheeler