The method I use for grilling corn is probably a little different from what you'll see elsewhere, but I think it works better. The key to my method is that I don't peel the husks back - at all - until the corn is fully cooked.
That's right. I don't peek at the corn when I buy it, and I don't remove the silks before I cook it. Keeping the husks completely intact helps the corn steam while it’s cooking.
Don’t worry about the silks - after the corn is cooked, the silks peel right off along with the husks.
What about checking the ears of corn before you buy them? You can do that without opening them. There are two things you need to check. First, make sure you trust the seller. That's easy enough if you're buying from the farmer's market. Then, feel the corn through the husks to make sure the cob is full of corn.
When you get an ear that's not full, it will feel weird and bumpy or the kernels stop abruptly before you get to the top – it’s easy to feel. And if you're buying from a store instead of the farmer's market, you want husks that aren't dry or moldy. But you knew that, right?
Besides helping the corn steam better on the grill, keeping the husks fully intact helps the corn stay fresh longer. You still want to cook it as soon as possible, but the husks will buy you a little bit of extra time. And the farmers at the market will appreciate that you aren't defacing their corn before you buy it.
Grilled Corn with Chili Lime Butter
1 stick of butter, softened
Zest of one lime
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
Soak the ears of corn in water for 15 minutes (or more) before grilling. Place them on the grill and cook, turning so that all sides are cooked evenly, until the outermost husk is charred, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your butter. Add the lime zest and chili powder to the butter, mashing it in so it's evenly distributed, beginning with about 1/4 teaspoon of the chili powder. Depending on your taste for heat as well as the freshness and flavor of your chili powder, you might want to add more.
When the corn comes off the grill, pull back the husks, slather with butter, and serve. Bring the rest of the butter to the table.
You might have butter left over. Refrigerate it for later use. Besides corn, it's also good with chicken or pork.