Growing up, we always had corn in the back yard. Summer and corn on the cob went hand in hand. My folks cooked their corn the usual way, in a big pot of boiling water. A pinch of salt, a slathering of creamy butter, and there you go.
Lillian Watson in an etiquette book of 1921 described corn on the cob as “one of the most difficult foods to eat gracefully.” According to proper etiquette, corn on the cob was one of those foods that allowed diners to use their fingers. Even then, there was a proper way to hold the ear. One would hold the corn lightly at each end, and the use of a napkin to do so was often encouraged. A proper host would have provided a short knife for removing the kernels from the cob, considered the most satisfactory method of serving and eating corn on the cob. It was also recommended that the salting and buttering of the corn be done as small sections just before eating to minimize the mess of butter on hands and faces. Growing up, it was grab that cob with your hands and munch away, with all its buttery goodness dripping down your chin and running down your arms. Corn dishes and little cob holders were unheard of. I will confess, I went through a very “prim and proper” period that included crystal dishes and sterling silver little corn knobs. I remember the first barbecue Kiddo attended where corn on the cob was served other than at home, with the proper eating tools. As he went through the food line, someone dropped an ear of corn on his plate right along side his barbecued chicken. He did not know how to eat his corn without a proper dish and little silver knobs. The thought of actually picking up the corn with his hands and eating it was foreign to him! We’ve graduated, or regressed depending upon how you want to look at things, to a more casual cob corn experience. I’ve got a platter for serving, with a corn butter dish, corn salt and pepper shakers, and corn shaped dishes. Our knobs are hard plastic green “screw” in jobs. So while still “proper” the setting is far more casual. Besides, who wants to polish corn knobs? Not me!
In the summer we eat a lot of corn on the cob. Most of the time, it’s just a cob, some salt and some butter. Compounded butters are awesome, too especially when using a compounded butter on steaks. This colorful recipe is perfect when you want to elevate your cob corn presentation to a whole new level. With Father’s Day just around the corner, now is a good time to share . . .
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Tomato-Herb Spread
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
4 Tablespoons seeded, finely chopped tomato
2 small garlic clove, pressed
2 Teaspoon fresh parsley, snipped
2 Teaspoon Fresh Basil, finely torn
2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
Salt and Ground Pepper to Taste
8 Ears of FRESH Corn
Sugar (if needed)
4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
6-8 Basil leaves, cut into long strips
Heat coals for grill. In a small bowl combine butter, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, basil and thyme. Stir with a fork until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
Bring a pot of water sweetened with a little sugar to a boil. Shuck and clean corn. Cut off tip and ends for an even finish. Parboil corn 5-6 minutes. Remove from water using tongs and allow corn to cool. Insert corn-cob-knobs into each end.
Rub corn generously with herb butter. Wrap each ear of corn in heavy aluminum foil, making sure cob knobs are completely covered. Grill foil-wrapped corn over medium ash-covered coals for 10-12 minutes, turning frequently with Barbecue Tongs to prevent burning.
To serve, unwrap corn, place on a platter and garnish as desired with tomatoes and fresh basil.
Cook’s Notes: The original recipe came from Pampered Chef (without the additional garnish). The first time I made it, there were two problems – cooking time and taste. The corn I had purchased came from the grocery store and not from a wonderful local farmer’s market known for amazing corn, thus the corn wasn’t as sweet as it should be. If you know the grower, skip the sugar but still parboil the ears. When the corn was wrapped well in foil, the cooking time was longer than expected – nearly twice as long as was called for. By par-boiling the ears in sweetened water, these problems were solved.