Few things are more synonymous with summertime than sinking your teeth into a fragrant, steaming corn on the cob, fresh off the grill. And while some purists claim corn needs absolutely no additions, I beg to differ. Subtle enhancements can take a good corn on the cob and turn it into a treat you can’t bear to put down. Here’s everything you need to know on how to make this seasonal staple better than ever:
Method Matters: Before we dive into the accoutrements, let’s take a quick look at corn-cooking 101. There about as many methods to cooking corn as there are varieties of the stuff (and there are thousands of hybridized corn varieties, in case you were wondering!). But perhaps the biggest mistake people make when cooking a cob is removing the husk and silk prior to cooking. When left intact, this messy exterior actually acts as a natural steam bag for the kernels inside, helping them to cook faster while retaining moisture at the same time. If you’re cooking corn indoors, heat up the oven to 350° F, and roast your un-shucked corn on a baking sheet for about 30-40 minutes, with the shorter cooking time reserved for the smallest cobs. If you’re grilling outside, soak the un-shucked corn in a water bath 10 minutes prior to putting onto the grill (so the husks don’t burn up), and grill for about 15 minutes, turning a few times to char on all sides. Either way, when you peel away the husk, you’ll find the mess associated with shucking corn is now almost non-existent … and you’ll have a built-in “handle” at the end of the stalk to hang onto while enjoying the bounty of your efforts as well.
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Better Than Butter: Cooking aside, it’s really the short window after the corn has cooked where the real culinary magic takes place. Hands down, my number one go-to addition to corn is not butter … it’s coconut oil. If you haven’t tried coconut oil on corn before, prepare to try and muffle your cries of joy. This dairy-free, fully natural, and nutritionally-beneficial ingredient melts like butter but offers a richer, almost creamy flavor that perfectly balances the starchy sweetness of corn. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top, and you may just find your life complete in the moment of that first mouthful.
Spice It Up: Of course, once you have your epic corn and coconut oil base, you can really get creative. Coconut oil will help your favorite spices and garden herbs stick to the kernels, which adds visual beauty and flavorful flair to this simple recipe. A classic “street corn” is usually sprinkled with chili powder, sea salt, cilantro, and lime, and sometimes with a variety of creamy sauce or cheese. For a healthier version, use coconut oil in place of the cream sauce, and grated nuts like macadamia or small seeds like hemp or chia in place of the cheese. Other complimentary spices you could use include cumin, cayenne, coriander, or garlic powder, and almost any kind of fresh garden herb, from chives to parsley, is a welcome addition.
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Kernel Happy: Corn certainly doesn’t have to stay on the cob! You can create a crowd-pleasing salad in just minutes. After you’ve roasted your corn, cut off the kernels once the corn is cool enough to handle. Warm some coconut oil in a sauté pan, and add some minced shallots or onion, as well as any kind of summer vegetable, such as bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or tomatoes. Plant-based proteins like cooked quinoa or beans also make great companions. Add the corn last, just to sauté briefly and warm, and season with any of the afore-mentioned spices or herbs along with salt to taste. Bonus points for a drizzle of citrusy lime juice right at the end, and serve up some summer in a bowl. Final note: Always choose organic corn to avoid GMO’s!