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July 31, 2013

A cheesy, buttery take on grilled corn on the cob

When I was a kid, corn on the cob was prepared one way, and only one way.

My mom would husk the ears and pile them — sometimes having to jam them — in a large stockpot. She’d add about an inch of water, cover the pot, then bring it to a boil and steam the heck out of them. Then we’d slather them with butter and salt and call it good. And I’m pretty confident most American families followed some variant of this basic approach.

These days, we are awash in alternatives, all of course proclaiming to be the best. Some sound crazy, but work wonderfully (do yourself a favor and Google microwaving corn in the husk). Others just sound crazy (filling a cooler with boiling water and corn may be an easy way to feed a crowd, but... ew...).

But as most of us have learned, grilling corn probably really is the best choice. The smoky flavor and gentle char bring out the sweetness of the kernels. The only trouble is all the conflicting advice — to soak, or not; to oil, or not; high heat or low heat; direct heat or indirect heat.

Over the years, I’ve discovered most of that really doesn’t matter. My basic approach to grilling corn is simple. I husk the ears and rub them with a bit of oil. Then I pop them onto a grill set to medium heat. Now and then, I turn them to get them evenly heated and lightly browned. That’s it.

But even though my grilling method is simple, I still like to gussy up my ears after they come off the grill. My recent favorite — heaps of shaved queso fresco cheese that is seasoned with paprika, salt, pepper and garlic. Of course, if you prefer to cook your corn on the stove — or in the microwave, or even in a cooler — this topping is just as delicious on those ears.

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