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The Journal Gazette

  • Washington Post The most distracted grillmaster would have a hard time ruining Steamed Corn on the Grill.

  • America’s Test Kitchen Grilled Corn on the Cob

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 1:00 am

Fired up for grilled corn

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at a glance

Here are some corn facts:

• Indiana ranks fifth in the United States for corn production. Most of the corn in Indiana fields is used to feed pigs, cows and chickens.

• There is one silk thread for every kernel that grows in an ear of corn.

• The number of kernels per ear can vary from 500 to about 1,200. A typical ear has 800 kernels in 16 rows. A pound of corn has about 1,300 kernels.

• Only 1 percent of corn planted in the United States is sweet corn. The rest is “field corn,” which is used primarily to feed livestock, make ethanol and manufacture other goods.

• Sweet corn is harvested while immature. Field corn is harvested when the kernels have dried.

• Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica.

• Corn is used in 75 percent of grocery items in some form.

• In the 1930s, a farmer could harvest about 100 bushels by hand in a nine-hour day. Modern equipment allows farmers to harvest 900 bushels of corn per hour.

Sources: Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Iowa Corn Growers Association

It's grilling season, and we're looking forward to burgers and hot dogs and ribs and chicken and steak and pork chops and ... well, we'll stop there. 

Of course, that means it's also time to start thinking about side dishes, and a summer staple is grilled corn.

Everyone seems to have their own way of cooking it. Some swear by wrapping it in foil, others marinate or soak it, still others leave the husk on.

If you're in search of the perfect ear of juicy grilled corn, here are a couple of recipes to try this summer.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

For a recipe that produced corn with a distinctly grilled taste and lightly charred kernels, we grilled the corn unhusked. The grill imparted great flavor to our grilled corn, but also made the kernels tough and dry. To avoid this, we soaked the husked corn in salted water before grilling, which kept the kernels moist and seasoned them as well.

If your corn isn't as sweet as you'd like, stir a half-cup of sugar into the water along with the salt. Avoid soaking the corn for more than 8 hours, or it will become overly salty.

Salt and pepper

8 ears corn, husks and silks removed

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In large pot, stir 1/2 cup salt into 4 quarts cold water until dissolved. Add corn and let soak for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Grill corn, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until kernels are lightly charred all over, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove corn from grill, brush with softened butter, and season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

– America's Test Kitchen

Steamed Corn on the Grill

The problem with many grilled corn recipes is they assume a cook's attention is focused solely on those ears. Unless you're just having corn for dinner, however, most backyard barbecuers are multitaskers, keeping a watchful eye on ribs, burgers, sausages and more.

This technique for cooking corn on the grill is forgiving. It produces sweet, plump ears even when you happen to forget about them while attending to other foods. 

16 to 24 ice cubes

8 to 12 ears fresh corn, shucked

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (about 450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, use a metal chimney to prepare your charcoal or wood briquettes; once the charcoal is gray and glowing red, distribute the briquettes evenly under the cooking area. The grill should be ready when you can place your hand about 6 inches over the grates for 3 to 4 seconds without pulling it away.

Meanwhile, wrap 2 ice cubes with each ear of corn in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil bundles on the grill; close the lid and cook/steam for 20 to 25 minutes. When you peek inside the foil, the ice will have melted and the corn kernels should look moist and a bit enlarged.

Discard the foil and place the steamed ears of corn directly on the grill grate. Close the lid and cook, using tongs to rotate the ears a quarter-turn every 2 minutes, until they pick up your desired color and smokiness. (We like them with some darkened kernels.)

Serve warm with butter. Makes 8  to 12 servings.

– Tim Carman, Washington Post