A-Maized By Heirloom Corn: A Barbecue Grill Experiment

IMG_3796 (1)Your are not mistaken if you recall me posting an article last year that blasts today’s corn for its extreme genetic modification (it’s now regulated as a pesticide rather than a food. Remember?). Well, somewhere in the center of that article I offered some insight on the bright side of corn, reminding everyone that if you source your corn properly, you’re safe. Small, local farmers in particular can choose to cultivate only heirloom maize seeds, delivering an organic, delicious, natural corn experience to corn lovers. Now that we’ve established this, let’s go corn hunting and decide on the best preparation.

Summertime into autumn is the only time of year I would recommend consuming corn in the Northeast. That way you can be sure you’re eating locally-grown corn. Farmer’s markers are abundant in the tri-state area, often putting you in touch with the folks who are directly involved in cultivating the corn at hand. Engage with them, and get a sense of how sustainably they farm, and how passionate they are about only working with heirloom varieties. Then, claim your bounty.

When preparing corn on the cob, the barbecue grill is the most useful. This year, I did a grilled corn experiment whereby I prepared it 3 different ways and gauged for optimum juiciness and textural pliancy. Food is objective, of course, and different palates will judge the results differently. Try this experiment yourself, with a few friends or family members present, and decide which corn on the cob preparation gets enjoyed the most. It’s a wonderful study in food sensory perception, and a delicious way to learn. Each preparation is followed by grilling the corn for 15 minutes on a medium grill, and rotating.

Preparation #1: The Leaky Diver’s Suit

Soak your corn on the cob in a large bowl of cool water while it’s still in its own husk, for 1 hour. The resulting grilled corn is my favorite preparation because it has the best “tooth” and textural snap in the kernels, while still remaining tender.

Preparation #2: Full Metal Jacket

Remove the husk and wrap your corn on the cob in aluminum foil. Consider adding butter inside the foil before wrapping. This preparation is best for the lover of buttery corn, but otherwise lacks in snappy texture.

Preparation #3: The Naked Lunch

Remove the husk and grill your corn on the cob naked. Although this adds the pleasant optical appearance of grill marks to the corn, it is the least-recommended preparation for taste and texture, due to a drying out of the kernels. Food for thought for anyone who’s used to this classic approach to grilling corn on the cob.

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