My first memory of eating corn was in my Mom's kitchen; I was probably around five or six and I distinctly remember her pulling a plastic pouch out of some boiling water with a pair of tongs. My mother took a pair of scissors and exclaimed, "This is Mexacali corn and you're going to love it!"
Well, to this day that experience has inspired me to treat corn with the respect it deserves, and boy, do I love it now!
I make everything, from a Fresh Corn Tamale with Shrimp and Garlic to sautéed fish crusted with corn - not just the yellow, but white and sweet blue corn, too.
And then, there's even my corn ice cream — yes, ice cream. It made its TV debut a few years ago on The Early Show, and while it didn't go over well with my good friend Bryant Gumbel ["This is terrible," he said], that hasn't stopped me from making it again.
But without question, the most fun way to eat corn is probably on the cob with both hands, your lips covered in melted butter.
Picking the right ear is key! Here's what to look for - tightly-packed kernels that have a slight shine to them and no sign of decay. I always like the small kernels, but that's your call.
So let's get cooking! And since it's the 4th of July, we've got to fire up the grill!
Peel back the husks without detaching them from the base of the ear and remove all of the "silks." They're inedible and the only useless part of the corn. Next, dip the whole ear into some water for about ten seconds to add moisture to the corn while it cooks. Fire-roast the corn over low to medium heat for about ten to twelve minutes, turning every few minutes.
When the corn is cooked, the fun begins! Here are a couple of ideas:
If you want to go the butter route, make a flavored one with either fresh basil or a little spice like this red chile butter.
One of the trendiest ways to eat corn these days is Latin style:
Slather a little mayonnaise or butter all over the corn, roll it in a dry grated cheese like cotija or Parmesan, squeeze a little lime juice on it and sprinkle on a touch of chili powder - and you've got a meal in itself.
There's been a lot of talk in the news lately that in the not-so-distant future, corn ethanol will be fueling our planet, boats and automobiles. As a chef, I have mixed feelings about this; I'm not looking forward to having to charge two hundred dollars for a bowl of corn chowder!
So if it ever comes to that, yeah, I'd probably give up on the corn ice cream. But grilled corn on the cob? Never.
Make some of Bobby Flay's favorite corn recipes for your Fourth of July barbeque.
Perfectly Grilled Corn
1. Heat the grill to medium.
2. Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away the silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold husks back into place and tie the ends together with kitchen string. Place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes.
3. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks and eat on the cob.
Combine the butter, basil, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape into a bowl. Can be prepared 4 hours in advance and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Red Chile Butter
Combine the butter, chile powder, paprika, honey, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape into a bowl. Can be prepared 8 hours in advance and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Perfectly Grilled Corn with Chipotle Mayonnaise, Cotija Cheese & Lime
1. Combine the mayonnaise, garlic, chipotle, lime juice, honey and salt in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
2. Spread the cheese evenly on a plate. Remove the husks from the grilled corn, brush the corn with the mayonnaise, roll in the cheese to coat the entire surface and squeeze with some lime juice. Serve immediately.