Fired Up Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is one of the great treats of summer. There’s no denying there’s just something about it—whether it’s from a stall at the farmers’ market, the back of a farmer’s truck along a country road, or the grocery store. Sure, you can buy frozen cobs throughout the year, but there’s no comparison. The season is so short, too. I want to make sure to have more before it’s over. Soon the corn stand at the state fair will be churning out roasted cobs dripping in butter (a welcome healthy food in between the cheese curds and corn dog, albeit too much butter), but until then, I’ve got to get more.

I have my tiny plastic cob-design skewers at the ready for easy handles, and even bought special corn dishes this year. It always seemed like there was never enough room on a plate for the corn and the rest of a meal, so these seemingly unnecessary purchases are actually quite handy. They’re curved so the cob is nestled in and you can roll it around in the butter, too. Because what’s corn on the cob without butter? It doesn’t really need much more than that, but it’s also fun to try mixing it up a bit. This recipe by Rozanne Gold (chef and cookbook author, including Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease), which appeared in Real Food, spices things up with peppery butter for a change of pace.

And if you’re almost missing the random late-night firecrackers since the neighborhood kids have run out of ammo, this recipe can also keep a bit of that Fourth of July spirit going. Not only do the flavors explode, but the husks blacken and crackle like real firecrackers as the corn cooks on the grill. If you don’t want to use the grill, you can boil the corn until just tender and slather with the fiery pepper-lime butter. (Look for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Mexican food section of the supermarket.)

Firecracker Corn

Serves 8

1 stick unsalted butter
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 limes
8 large ears corn

Let butter soften at room temperature. Split chipotle peppers in half and remove seeds. Chop very fine to get 1 heaping tablespoon. Add to butter and mash well. Grate zest of 1 lime and add to butter. Cut lime in half and squeeze to get 2 teaspoons lime juice. Add to butter with a large pinch of salt and mash to incorporate all the ingredients. Set aside.

Carefully peel back husks from corn and remove all silk. Spread a little of the butter mixture over corn and then pull husks back up. Wrap one husk around the center of each corn to hold husks in place (like a belt) and secure with a toothpick. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

Prepare grill for cooking over high heat. Cook corn on hot grill for 8 minutes, turning often. Husks will blacken. Slit husks open and place on platter. Top with remaining butter and serve with wedges of remaining lime and salt.

If boiling corn, remove husks and silk and boil in salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Spread pepper-lime butter all over corn and sprinkle with salt. Serve with lime wedges.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.