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
- Grill the peppers on a medium-hot grill. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, remove the skins, stems and seeds.
- To make the butter, put the peppers in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Measure. You should have about ½ cup.
- 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.
- Spoon into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare a medium-hot the grill.
- 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.
- As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, husk the corn. Pass the pot of butter and some lime wedges.
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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