Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A whole blog on roast corn? Sure, why not?

The terms roast and corn may seem incongruous to some readers, as we've become a steamed corn society, or so it seems, but if you've ever had it the way my Dad used to make it, you'd look forward to it every summer, just like I do.

     Round about knee high at the 4th of July time, I start to get my cravings for freshly roasted corn.  My Dad spoiled me by teaching me how to roast corn and since I've tasted it that way I've become a 
sort of roasted corn snob.  I'll admit to picking some up at the local store, because they get the southern corn first and I can start practicing cooking it, but truly there is nothing better than Western NY corn from a local corn stand if you are going to take the time to roast it.

     I'm sure that my first taste of roast corn was the day before one of our family reunions.  You can read about that awesome tradition here (The Yarger Family reunion), but my Dad had another tradition attached to it and that was to hold a small party for his family the day before and to roast some corn at it.  You have to be a special kind of crazy to hold a family party the day before a 100-150 person family reunion, but that was just my
Brother Ace on the grill
Dad.  He couldn't get enough time with his siblings and his progeny, so he'd tailgate a day early for the reunion by hosting a smaller 25-40 person gathering at his house and I never knew it to not include a corn roast.  My Dad's long passed now, but thankfully my brother Ace and his wife have kept up this crazy tradition.

     So how do you roast corn?   It starts with selecting the right corn.  It must be fresh picked that day and larger ears have enough husks to keep them from burning.  You'll want to soak them in water for an hour or so before throwing them on the grill.  A charcoal fire will give you the best corn but if you have a gas grill, you can use that too.  You lay the corn directly on the grill, it's best if you alternate head to tail to fit more on there.  Open a beer.   What? It's going to take a while to do this, it's a hour long job if you do it right.  
Is a job done right until your wife inspects it?
As the corn starts to steam and then cook in the husks, you'll give it a quarter turn about every 10 minutes to make sure they are cooking evenly.  Eventually the heat will start to caramelize some of the kernels right through the husks and that is what you are waiting for.  My wife likes hers to be taken off the grill right before this happens, but to me, it's like eating steamed corn, so what's the point of roasting it?  I need some char on it in order to be happy.  You'll take them off and rest them for a minute, just because they are too hot to handle, and then you'll peel them back and finishing preparing the corn.

     My dad used paper plates and 2 quarter sticks of butter to finish the job and I'm a traditionalist so I do the same.  By the end of the job you've have corn shaped ridges in the butter, and butter smeared evenly over the corn ears.  Sure, they'll be some random bits of black burnt husks stuck in the butter, but that's to be expected.  A few years ago someone figured out that you could melt butter and float it on
At Ace's house roasting corn while he was away
top of a gallon of water and you could dip your corn in it and supposedly evenly coat your corn that way.  I've tried but, but I'll still go with the paper plate method.  That same person probably invented the "Cooler Corn" thing you've seen going around where you shuck the ears, put a dozen in a plastic cooler and then put a gallon of boiling water in it to steam them.  That may be a lot quicker, but you'll never convince me that corn out of a plastic cooler is going to taste as good as hot from a charcoal fire.  Quicker is rarely better kids.  After the corn is buttered, for me a few shakes of salt and pepper finish it and then you can decide how to eat it.  I like it eaten right off the cob, I prefer to do a typewriter motion for my first line, going left to right all along the ear, and then I start at the small end and spin the ear to remove the corn. 

     There is a popular notion that you don't actually eat corn, that you just "borrow" it, but that's about 1/3 correct.  Your body, if you are human, cannot digest the outer hull of the corn, it's cellulose and
we lack the correct enzymes or specific proteins to break it down.  If you chew it well though, you'll digest all the inner parts of the corn which are the complex carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and some vitamins and minerals.  The hull is insoluble fiber, so you'll have the benefit of that passing through your system to help flush things out.  Thus ends today's science lesson.  You can decide on how many ears to eat, but remember that the "flushing out" effective is cumulative.  Pair anything you want with the corn, as long as the grill is on, I like to cook a steak along with it normally, but beware, with a belly full of corn and steak on a warm summer afternoon, spontaneous naps are known to happen.  This blog should have given you enough information to try this on your own, so what are you waiting for?  Start grilling. 

That was good, now time for a nap.



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