Grilled Corn & Flavored Butters

When the first ear of corn hits my farmers’ market, I am there to snatch it. I swoop down like a crafty crow and buy as many ears as I can carry home. Then we put it on the grill, and the whole family enjoys one of our favorite summertime feasts.

When I was a kid there was lots of fresh corn, but it wasn’t always tender and sweet. Sometimes it was tough and starchy, and the clever cook learned to tell by sight (well, most of the time) which was sweet and which was tough.

Today corn is bred to be sweet and tender and it’s hard to get a bad ear, especially when farmers locally grow it, close to home.

Over the years I have read all kinds of recipes for grilling corn: take off the silk but leave it in the husk and grill it (what a lot of work!); husk it and put it in aluminum foil and grill it (in what world does that give the corn any flavor?); even boil it first and then put it on the grill (isn’t grilling supposed to make cooking easy?).

I just brush the corn lightly with good olive oil, put it on the grill, turn it four times and it’s perfectly done.

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Of course I have a few secrets: Always place the corn parallel to (not perpendicular with) the grates on the grill. That way it doesn’t roll around and it’s easy to make the one-quarter turns.

The second secret: Flavored butters. I developed recipes for dozens of flavored butters, but in summer when herbs are fresh, Fresh Herb Butter is one of my family’s favorites. Of course, it’s hard to pass up Tomato-Bacon Butter, or Scallion-Parsley Butter or Lemon-Pepper Butter. Why not make all four.

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Grilling gives fresh corn a tantalizing smoky flavor and a lightly charred finish. Depending on how hot your grill, you need to turn it every 3 to 5 minutes, four times in all. All grills are different in terms of heat. You know your own grill, so turn the corn when you see the first side is done. The times given in the recipes are just guidelines.

Corn on the Grill

Yield: 8 servings

Corn on the Grill

Ingredients

  • 8 ears of sweet corn, husked, silk removed
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Flavored Butters (recipes follow)

Instructions

  1. Heat the grill. Brush the ears of corn lightly with olive oil. Place the ears parallel to the grill grates.
  2. Using tongs, turn the corn four times, one-quarter turn each time, every 3 to 5 minutes or until it is lightly charred and cooked through.
  3. Serve with flavored butters.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/grilled-corn-flavored-butters/

In summer the farmers’ markets are brimming not only with fresh fruits and vegetables but herbs as well. What better time to use them in a compound butter.  I’ve developed four different flavored butters to serve alongside the grilled corn.

The first of these is Fresh Herb Butter. I like to mix herbs, but I learned that tarragon and sage are very dominant, so I always use 1 tablespoon of flat-leaf parsley with either of these. Find the mix you like best based on what is available.

herbs

And don’t just use it on corn. It is wonderful on bread, biscuits, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and it’s downright luxurious on top of a freshly grilled steak or chicken breast.

Fresh Herb Butter

Yield: ½ cup

Fresh Herb Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons mixed herb leaves, not stems, such as thyme, tarragon, oregano, basil, sage and flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (¼ pound, or 1 stick) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

Instructions

  1. Place herbs and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to chop very finely, scraping down sides as needed.
  2. Add butter and process to puree, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Transfer to a small container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/grilled-corn-flavored-butters/

Next comes Scallion-Parsley Butter. There is a difference between scallions and green onions. True scallions are a distinct variety, not just an immature (green) onion, and they have a sweeter, milder taste. A scallion has a bulb with straight sides; green onions have bulbs with curved sides.

scallions

That being said, it makes no difference which you use in this recipe.

Scallion-Parsley Butter

Yield: ½ cup

Scallion-Parsley Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 scallions, about 8 inches long, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley leaves, not stems
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (¼ pound, or 1 stick) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

Instructions

  1. Place scallion, parsley and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to chop very finely, scraping down sides as needed.
  2. Add butter and process to puree, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Transfer to a small container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/grilled-corn-flavored-butters/

For all those bacon lovers out there I created a Tomato-Bacon Butter. Sun-dried tomatoes are widely available, dry and oil-packed. I like the dried ones but some are hard as rocks. So look for the package that says “soft,” and I think you will find these sweeter and easier to use.

bacon and tomato

The smoky flavor of this bacon goes well on corn, bread, biscuits, vegetables, and grilled fish, poultry and meat. No added salt is needed in this butter because the bacon provides enough salt.

Tomato-Bacon Butter

Yield: ½ cup

Tomato-Bacon Butter

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup packed sun-dried tomato halves, or about 8 halves
  • 2 tablespoons prepared bacon bits
  • ½ cup (¼ pound, or 1 stick) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

Instructions

  1. Place tomatoes and bacon in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to chop very finely, scraping down sides as needed.
  2. Add butter and process to puree, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Transfer to a small container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/grilled-corn-flavored-butters/

Last but not least is Lemon-Pepper Butter. There is no mistaking the lemon flavor in this piquant butter. It especially complements corn, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes.

Lemon-Pepper Butter

Yield: ½ cup

Lemon-Pepper Butter

Ingredients

  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (¼ pound, or 1 stick) unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

Instructions

  1. Place lemon zest, pepper and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process to chop very finely, scraping down sides as needed.
  2. Add butter and process to puree, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Transfer to a small container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/grilled-corn-flavored-butters/

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