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Corn Whole on Fire

July 23, 2014

When eating seasonally, the first crop of any new thing is always a treat. But this week, the CSA delivered on one of the best tastes of summer.


The entire haul was a bunch of carrots (with greens attached), rainbow chard, new onions, purple scallions, dill, two heads of lettuce, poblano peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans and a basket of peaches.

Out of the whole bunch, the only thing that really needed to be used up on day one was the corn. Oh, fresh summer corn. It’s as good as it’s ever going to get the moment it is picked. And from there on out, it only goes downhill.

Today’s preparation was a bit more violent than what I’ve done in the past.

Historically, I send the kids outside with a paper bag and instruct them to shuck the corn. It’s both an activity for them and a way for me to get some quiet time in the kitchen. Then I submerge the ears in simmering water just for a few minutes to cook out the rawness and warm it through.

It’s a tried and true approach. But it involves a large pot of near-boiling water in a house you are actively trying to air condition. It’s like running a humidifier and a dehumidifier at the same time to see them duke it out. Total madness.

Instead, last night was the maiden voyage of the crap gas grill. Maybe I should just call it my fire roaster, and be done with it.

There were only a few problems.

1) The propane tank still wasn’t hooked up
2) There was no time to soak the ears of corn in water
3) I had absolutely no idea what I was doing in terms of temps or times

To make it a bit more confusing, Mrs. Fussy decided it would be a good idea to slice the eggplant, and add it to the list of things to be licked by fire.

Connecting the gas tank wasn’t hard. The hard part came from conducting the leak test. Since I not a fan of self immolation, I fastidiously followed the safety directions in the grill’s user manual. I have to wonder how many people actually do that. I’m guessing ten percent or fewer.

A couple weeks ago, one of my friends had suggested that fire roasted corn works best when the outer husks are peeled, leaving just a thin layer of husk in between the flames and the grains.

This turned out to be good advice. The interesting thing about a gas grill was how easy is to have different temperatures on different sides of the grill. So the left 40% was set on high to scorch the corn husks. The right 60% was set on medium to sear but not char the eggplant to death.

Amazingly, in about ten minutes, both were ready and reasonably well cooked. The corn got smokey. The eggplant was tender. I would have loved to whip up a lemon-tahini dressing for the eggplant, but I’m not quite in the groove of this fire roasting thing yet.

The good news is that it saved the house from being blasted from the heat and humidity of the stove. The bad news is that I was still a sweaty mess after cooking the food.

I’m really looking forward to charring those scallions. Nobody is going to eat them except for me. But when they are all black and blistered, and sprinkled with a bit of salt, I can gobble them down. It’s a good thing too, because they were starting to pile up.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Theresa Setzer permalink
    July 23, 2014 8:52 am

    Roxbury CSA? Worked the opening shift for our location yesterday. Best week so far and can’t wait to try the corn tonight!

  2. Michel permalink
    July 23, 2014 9:35 am

    Congratulations on grilling corn in the husk. For my part I don’t remove any of the outer leaves before grilling. On my wood/charcoal grill I get enough heat to burn layers by layers until the corn is cooked instead of only steaming the corn in the slow cooking process of a propane grill, the high heat of charcoal burn quickly through most of the leaves, the taste is also different, you get more of the grill/smoke. You can cheat and finish the corn naked on the grill, brush on a little butter and give it a little time and the corn start to get some color.
    Finish with another brushing of melted butter and roll in grated cotija cheese for a Mexican experience.

  3. July 23, 2014 12:56 pm

    I have soaked and not soaked corn in the husk and can’t find any significant difference. As long as the corn is reasonably fresh (and so not dried out) it should contribute the humidity you need to steam the corn. Anyway, I’ve abandoned this method for ears cooked right on the grill with a gentle char and slathered with mayo as they do in Mexico.

    I still worry about you and that crap grill. It seems like you are determined to make it work work just because you paid for it. If someone brought home a bunch of groceries full of GMOs and HFCS, would you adopt the same philosophy?

  4. Jamie permalink
    July 24, 2014 10:15 am

    We remove the husks and place the corn directly on the grill. Medium heat cooks it perfectly (turn once), without drying or charring but with a little caramelization. When it’s done, slather it with sour cream, Oaxaca cheese (or feta) and chili powder.

  5. July 27, 2014 8:44 am

    We opted against a CSA this year for a few reasons (mostly, we can’t handle a full share ourselves, and we didn’t have anyone to split with us … we also didn’t try very hard), and I am REALLY missing it. We had one small farm we did a few years in a row until he discontinued his CSA, and then last year we split on of the food bank CSA shares with one of my coworkers.

    Anyway, it’s been a busy summer and I have not made it to the Farmer’s market most weeks. Honest Weight is a Godsend, truly, but even they can’t come close to capturing the bounty. Starting next week I will be working back on the plaza, and I am very happy I’ll have access to that (albeit tiny) market a couple days a week.

    Next year we are definitely doing the CSA again, somehow, some way!

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