Market Matters- Sweet on Corn: Grilled Corn with Feta & Lime

I’ve got a new sweetheart! Grilled Corn.

Well, she’s not exactly new. She and I renew our vows about this time every year. But before your raise you eyebrows and get all Jerry Fallwell on me, let me just say that my sweetheart is corn.

Sweet, sweeter, sweetest grilled corn We all love her. She’s sweet and sexy. But you gotta know a girl that sweet is bound to get around. Still, you don’t see me getting all jealous do you? I’m a big boy. I know what’s going on. In fact if I were as sweet as corn I’d expect to be slated onto quite a few dance cards myself. Besides, when it comes to sweet summer corn I don’t mind sharing– hell I don’t even mind sloppy seconds. Corn is plentiful this time of year, and I know she’ll be back to woo me again and again.

But you have to be careful when you use the word sweet around corn because in corn’s case sweet is a double entendre. Sure sweet is an incredibly accurate descriptor for the flavor. But did you know sweet corn is actually a name for a type of corn? It is the tender type whose kernels we eat fresh, on or off the cob. There is another type of corn too. It’s denser, rougher and not nearly as pretty. It probably has a name, but I don’t know it. Because this type of corn is used for drying, popping and grinding. Which is not nearly as sexy as fresh and succulent (although the jury is out on grinding)!

grilled cornNow rough dense corn may be fine for pigs and gerbils, but I prefer to concentrate on the pretty sister– sweet corn. She wasn’t always so sweet, what woman could be? In fact (and women will hate me for this) man made corn sweet. Men like sweet. Sweet corn began to earn her name more than 100 years ago when, through cross-breeding, man began eyeing corn and decided to mold her into a more carnal kernel. One whose sugar content is considerably higher than the heirlooms from whose genes she sprung.

The irony of course is this: In the case of corn America began to shun the heirloom varietal about 1960 and we have not looked back at her ugly face ever since. In fact, when it comes to corn– American’s are sweet on the genetically modified version. So sweet that many of the ancestors to the modern ear of corn we crave have disappeared forever.

Today’s corn was commercially introduced to my parent’s generation and is now known as the Sh2 hybrids. The two denotes the simple fact that this corn has twice the sugar as was standard before the modification. But the thing about sweet girls is they don’t usually stay that way. No sooner has she said “yes” than this gal starts to turn tough and starchy on you.

In fact the sugar in corn begins its starchy transformation within a half an hour of being picked (or should I say plucked?). Especially the older varieties. Though cool temperatures can slow this process down some, and the latest ‘super-sweet’ hybrids can maintain decent sugar levels for up to 10 days. Still your best bet is to hit the farmers market early in the day, hurry home and get that corn into the refrigerator for serving before the sun goes down.

Which is exactly what I have done. I hit up the Hollywood Farmers Market and brought home a bushel of my sweet desire. It’s the subject of my Market Matters post and the beginning of week devoted to corn. Corn, corn and more grilled corn. Seven days of the sweetest little lady you’d ever want to eat. Sure she’s my ladylove, but she’s more than enough woman for us all to have a little on the side.

grilled corn with feta and limeGrilled Corn with Feta & Lime makes 4

CLICK here for a printable Grilled Corn recipe

Grilled Corn method adapted from Martha Stewart Living

  • 4 ears of corn, in husks
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 lime, juice and zest only
  • 1⁄4 t chili powder, to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese
  • kosher salt to taste
  • lime wedges as needed

Heat the grill to high. Soak corn in cool water for 10 minute, turning occasionally.

Peel back the husks of the corn without removing them completely. Remove as much of the silks as you can. Return the husks to as close to their original place as possible, tying them in place if necessary. Transfer to grill. Cover; cook, turning often, until husks are charred, 10 minutes. Remove from grill.

Using a kitchen towel, pull back husks. Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder; brush onto the partially cooked corn. Return corn to grill (with husks pulled back and off heat). Cover; cook, turning often and brushing with more chili-lime sauce as needed, until kernels are charred in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove to a serving plate and dust with finely grated feta cheese. Season with coarse salt and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Grilled Corn