Grilled Corn with Pepper Pecorino Butter

If you give a mouse an ear of grilled corn, he’s going to want some grilled peppers to go with it.  Or vice versa.  Peppers have been so beautiful of late that we can’t stop eating them, or trying to figure out what else to eat with them.  Now that corn is on the scene one of the treats of the season is Grilled Corn with Pepper Pecorino Butter.

You’re cheating yourself if you don’t pick up a variety of peppers from the nearest farmers’  market and grill them yourself to make the compound butter.  Peppers the rest of the year will never be so good.  Mix up the colors and include at least one mildy spicy one (not a habanero–we tried that and let’s just say that sponging your face with cold hefferweizen is only partially effective).  Grill until the peppers blister; skin; and then process with butter, Pecorino and a few seasonings.  Allow the mixture to chill.  That’s it.  One night we ate the compound butter with grilled corn and grilled swordfish.  This morning for breakfast I had it on whole grain toast.

We don’t bother soaking or husking corn before grilling.  Corn grilled in husk tastes smokey, duh, from its charred wrapper, and it’s got a hint of chewiness.  Soaking corn works against both of those.  The only time I’d make an exception is if you’re setting up shop on a ocean beach.  Soaking in seawater really does add a briny element.  Ears with larger kernels seem to take to the grill better than those with smaller ones.  I much prefer Butter-and-Sugar, for example, than Silver Queen.  As it happens, I like yellow corn, perhaps because I grew up in Michigan, not New England, where white corn is preferred, but regional inclinations aside, Silver Queen these days often tastes too sugary, without a lot of corn flavor.

After you’ve sated yourself on corn and bluefish/swordfish and tomatoes, strip the kernels off any unconsumed ears, add them to salad, or use to make chowder.  (Sally Vargas has a great  recipe at Cooking Lessons.)  Enjoy.  Ken

Grilled Corn with Pepper Pecorino Butter


  • ¾ pound peppers–use a colorful combination and include at one spicy one.
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Zest of ½ a lime
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley, basil or mint leaves.)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 8 ears of corn in their husks


  1. Grill the peppers on a medium-hot grill.  As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, remove the skins, stems and seeds.
  2. To make the butter, put the peppers in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Measure.  You should have about ½ cup.
  3. Add 1½ sticks butter,  lime zest and juice, garlic and pulse until well combined. Season with salt, then taste.  If the butter seems too spicy, or if it looks like it’s breaking (moisture is seeping out of the mixture) add more butter.  Add the cilantro and cheese and pulse to just combine.  Taste again.  If it needs more salt, as it did in our case, stir in some coarse sea salt for texture.
  4. Spoon into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Prepare a medium-hot the grill.
  6. Put the corn on the grill, and cook with the top down, turning every 5 minutes or so.  After 15-20 minutes it should be beautifully charred on the outside and cooked through.  Use a squirt bottle if the tassels catch fire (not unheard of).  If you’re uncertain whether it’s cooked enough, peel back an ear and check.  Don’t worry if some of the outside leaves come off as the ears cook.  All the better if some of the kernels char.
  7. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, husk the corn.  Pass the pot of butter and some lime wedges.

Jody Notes:

I’m still in the mood for butter.  We talked about a grilled pepper compound butter, but I couldn’t get the Mexican  roasted corn-mayo-cheese combination out of my head, so I just stole the cheese and put it right into the butter.  It’s awesome.  It has to be a sharp spicy cheese like Pecorino Romano to stand up to the bold flavors of peppers and cilantro.   We also tried it on grilled swordfish.  (It worked.)  

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23 thoughts

  1. Hey, this sounds fabulous. We made the torchiere with squash blossoms last Sunday. What an absolutely delicious taste of summer. Thank you for that.


    • Hi, Anne. Glad it worked for you. The compound butter is great–and you’ll have tons left over for anything else grilled (the word promiscuous comes to mind). Let’s have dinner after Jody and I come up for air. Ken

  2. Corn is grilling right now, and the butter is so good I could eat it by the spoonful! I think it’s going on top of the steak too :-) Thanks for yet another amazing recipe!

  3. I totally agree with you about the fabulousness of the peppers right now, and that so many of the ultra-sweet corn varieties people love so much these days have lost all taste of corn. Beautiful photos, as always.

    • Thanks, Michelle–I appreciate the support. We’ve got a peach post coming up next week and the same thing could be (okay, will be) said about them. I don’t mind, on principle, if people want super sweet versions of any of this stuff. The problem is that it’s like a culinary version of Gresham’s Law (remember 8th grade history?) except that instead of “The good money drives out the bad,” we have a scenario where the super sweet drives out everything else because many farmers want to ride the wave of what’s most popular. Aaarrrgggghhhh! Ken

    • Back away from the counter, Steve, and keep your hands where we can see them. Speaking from personal experience, you DON’T want to touch this butter with your bare fingers and then touch any part of anyone’s body. That said, it’s great on corn. ;-) Ken

  4. This was an outstandingly delicious use of the peck of peppers and piles of corn that came in our CSA. We loved it. There’s now a huge bowl of the butter in our fridge, just waiting to be used on all sorts of carbs this week. I’d leave a longer comment, but I really must floss my teeth.

    • Heh-heh, you and I both. Glad you enjoyed it. I worked my way down to about half a bowl–I’ve been mostly on my own at night–then in a paroxysm of prudence, chopped the remainder into tablespoon-sized pieces, threw them into snack bag and froze them. Now, every time I open the freezer I hear this Bali-Hi-like crooning: Come to me, come to me… Ken

  5. Ken, I made this over the weekend. The butter is a really nice balance of fat and salt (the Pecorino almost brings enough salt on its own, but I added salt anyway) plus the acid from the lime juice. It’s great on corn as well as just plain toast. I have to say that the corn is so good this year that you can eat it plain, and even raw. I think that the next time I make the butter I’ll try using some chipotle chili powder.

    • Sorry for the delay in posting your comment–we were out of the country with limited internet access (a great thing). The corn and tomatoes this year have been fabulous. I couldn’t believe my luck this past Sunday in STILL finding great tomatoes. Chipotle butter sounds great. Ken

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