Corn on the Cob… Basted with Scampi-Butter, & Grilled or Roasted

In this recipe, fresh corn is basted with a savory “scampi” butter that’s imbued with the intense flavor of sautéed minced scallions and garlic. Then, the seasoned ears are wrapped securely in their husks or with foil and either cooked on the grill or roasted in the oven. Since the corn is already pre-seasoned, there’s no need to pass additional butter, at the table. I would, however, provide additional salt. Another great reason to cook corn pre-wrapped is that they stay hot longer. Choose uniform looking, young specimens and, when shopping, it’s a good idea to buy and extra ear and use that one for testing for doneness.

Lastly, if you’re not fond of eating corn directly from the cob, see the end of this recipe for instructions to slice the kernels off the cobs and then sauté them, in the scampi butter or check out another recipe that’s a favorite with my family for Sautéed Fresh Corn.

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Shopping List

Dairy & Eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted unsalted butter (or use some or all Garlic Confit Oil or regular extra-virgin olive oil)

1/2 cup minced scallions (use the white and 1 1/2 inches of the green)
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf Italian parsley or thinly sliced chives
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ears of yellow, white or bi-colored corn, outer husks pulled back (and kept attached at one end) and all silk removed (If your corn has had the husk and silk removed, you’ll use aluminum foil.)

Spices & Baking
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To season and wrap the corn

First melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat and, when hot and bubbling, stir in the scallions and garlic. Sauté the vegetables until softened, about 4 minutes, then stir in the herbs and some salt and black pepper, to taste. Let the scallion butter cool to just warm. One by one, brush the corn liberally with the scampi mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt. Pull the husks back up, surrounding the corn fully, then place a piece of aluminum foil at the top and scrunch it, securing the husks closed. Alternatively, tear off 8 pieces of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap around each ear of corn, going around 2 or 3 times. One by one, place a cleaned ear of corn on the shiny side of a piece of foil and, after liberally brushing with the scampi mixture, wrap up each ear in the foil, enclosing it completely.

To cook the corn on the grill

Either heat a gas grill to the highest setting, with the lid down or, if using a charcoal grill, heat the coals and get them and the food grate very hot. Open the lid and place the wrapped corn on the hot grate, over direct heat, and cook the corn, turning the ears occasionally, until some of the kernels turn golden, and all of them are crisp tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the intensity of heat. Alternatively (depending on what else is cooking on the grill) place the corn to the side, over indirect heat, and cook the ears, covered, turning occasionally until done, 12 to 20 minutes.

To roast the corn in the oven

Place a dark shallow baking sheet into the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450oF for at least 30 minutes. Place the wrapped corn on the hot sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until the same texture and appearance is achieved, as when cooking on a grill. (Alternatively, you can sear the corn on a hot stove-top grill pan, occasionally turning the cobs, to help them to caramelize in random spots. After about 8 minutes, cover the pan with a large, inverted, heatproof (stainless steel) bowl and turn the heat down to low. Continue cooking the corn until tender, about 5 more minutes.)

To serve

Pile the still-wrapped corn on a large serving platter and let each person help themselves, using tongs. Pass a dish with kosher or sea salt (or a salt mill), at the table.

To serve this corn dish, without the cobs

Before cooking, use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off the corn kernels. To do this, stand a completely clean ear of corn on its blunt end, inside a wide shallow bowl. Use the knife to slice down the shaft of the ear, repeatedly, until all the kernels have fallen into the bowl. Try not to slice too deep, however, or you’ll get some of the tough cob intermingled with the kernels. When finished removing all the kernels, use the blade of the knife to scrape the cob, going away from you, releasing it’s rich milk into the bowl of corn. Assemble the scampi butter, as directed (without adding the parsley or chives) then sauté the corn in the hot scampi butter, in a 12-inch, deep-sided skillet, over medium heat, until the kernels are crisp tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the herbs and some salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.

Timing is Everything

The scallions and the garlic can be mince one day ahead and kept refrigerated in separate, small well covered bowls.

The corn can be seasoned and wrapped one day ahead and kept refrigerated, stored in a sealed jumbo plastic bag.

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