Potato salads, baked beans and a steady line of ants round out any summer picnic menu and no cook-out is complete without a bevy of stellar side dishes to support the main course.  

Nothing says summer more than an ear of sweet corn!  Any competent home cook can boil up farm fresh corn with ease, but grilled corn in the husk is a festive and flavorful addition to any summer party menu.  Preparing fresh corn for the grill is a little more cumbersome than other cooking methods, but the reward of your extra efforts will be evident in flavor, texture and presentation.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

 1. Peel back the corn husks, remove silks, but leave husks in-tact attached.

 2. Pull the husks back over the corn cob and secure at the top by tying with a strip of husk or a piece of string.

 3. Plunge the prepped corn cobs into a pot of water and allow them to sit, submerged for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step; wet husks protect the delicate kernels during cooking.

 4. Meanwhile prepare a medium hot grill.  I use a charcoal grill and prefer to prepare an indirect fire to grill corn, but corn can be cooked over a gas grill as well.

 5. Shake excess water from cobs and place over the coals.

 6. Cover the grill and cook for about 25 minutes until the corn turning frequently until charred, but not scorched on the outside.  If corn is cooking to fast move it to a cooler section of the grill.

 7. Allow corn to cool slightly, peel back the husks and serve.

Once you’ve cooked corn in the husk the serving possibilities are simply endless!  My son prefers to enjoy his corn with a little butter, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning and my husband prefers to dabble on the Mexican side of things, but whatever signature corn toppings you choose to serve on the Fourth of July, your cook-out will be far from predictable.

Grilled Corn with Almond and Smoked Paprika Pesto

Perfectly grilled corn is delicious served with little more than butter, salt and pepper, but the 4th of July is a special occasion. Use this creative pesto topping on hot corn to take traditional cook-out fare to the next level.

  • ½ C Almonds, toasted
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 t Smoked paprika
  • 2 C Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ C Manchego cheese, grated or crumbled
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½- ¾ C Olive Oil
  • Grilled corn on the cob
  • Chives, green onion, and additional Manchego for garnish

Place the almonds and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process for about 30 seconds.  Add the smoked paprika, parsley leaves, Manchego, salt and pepper to the processor and pulse to combine.  With the machine running add the olive oil in a steady stream until pesto is just fluid. Adjust seasoning.  Pesto can be made two days in advance and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator.  Allow pesto to come to room temperature before serving.

To serve: Brush the hot grilled corn with some of the prepared pesto.  Garnish with chives, green onion, and additional Manchego.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

*This pesto is equally delicious served over grilled chicken or brushed on shrimp.

Evoking the Elote

If you’d like to mimic the flavors of Mexican corn served from carts across Chicago give this quick recipe a try! Reserve this indulgent dish for special occasions.

  • 4-6 Ears of grilled corn on the cob
  • 3T Butter, melted
  • ¼ C Mayonnaise
  • 3T Cotija cheese
  • Ancho chili powder, chopped cilantro and lime wedges

Brush the hot grilled corn with melted butter and spread with the mayonnaise.  Sprinkle with Cotija cheese and garnish with ancho chili powder, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

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