Great Dinners Start On The Grill

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Dinnertime gets to be a lot more fun as the grilling season gets under way and aromas of sizzling food fill the air. In fact, there’s a good case to make for cooking the whole dinner on the grill. This time of year, supersweet corn from Florida ranks high on the list of delectable grillables—and, like outdoor cooking, corn on the cob is just plain fun.

Ready for the Grate

Some cooks grill corn ears in their husks. But Cheryl and Bill Jamison, authors of The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining, prefer to “flame sear” ears stripped of their husks. “You get a much deeper taste,” they insist. Their basic recipe calls for basting the ears with melted butter as they grill over a medium fire. At the end comes a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. While the corn is cooking, throw chicken breasts, steak, pork tenderloin or sausages on the fire. Everything will be done at about the same time.

An easy idea from Diane Morgan, author of Dressed to Grill: Rub corn ears with a basting sauce like her zesty Hotlips Chili Butter (recipe follows), and grill them alongside skewered chicken and bell pepper chunks. Then relax and chat while dinner takes care of itself.

Dual-Use Rubs and Marinades

There’s no end to the marinades, slathers, basting sauces and rubs that make corn and other meal components taste fabulous. For instance, whip up a Greek-style marinade of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic and oregano—brush the mixture on skewers of pork chunks, corn rounds and zucchini that very conveniently add up to a meal (see recipe).

For a great chicken and corn dinner, coat cutlets and ears with melted butter, olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with a Southwest seasoning blend (or salt, pepper cumin and oregano), and head for the grill.

Many marinades and rubs are added before grilling, so that the foods and flavorings will really bond. But freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or basil are best added after grilling the corn with just a light coating of oil—that way, they’ll stay fresh and green. When a marinade such as barbecue sauce might burn, basting at the half-way point is the right choice.

For a whole slew of seasoning ideas for fresh sweet corn and its grillable companions, scroll down to the list!

Grill Once, Eat Twice

As long as you’re grilling, why not cook extra? Serve corn on the cob tonight and refrigerate the leftover ears. The next night, scrape off the nicely caramelized kernels and toss with a few other ingredients for a distinctive salsa to go with your leftover grilled chicken, pork or other protein.

The Jamisons suggest combining the grilled kernels with diced red bell pepper, red onion and a bit of corn oil. They flavor the salsa with lime juice and salt and, just before serving, fold in diced avocado.

Grilled corn kernels can be used in lots of other ways. Sprinkle them into salads or soups, or add to shrimp or chicken salad destined for a wrap.

Supersweet Corn Care

Supersweet corn from Florida is in your markets now until June, with the harvest peaking in April and May. Today, you may find corn in or out of the husk with kernels of yellow, white or both (bi-color)—all of it has the same deliciously sweet flavor. Once you’re back home, pop them into the refrigerator, to keep it fresh and sweet.

For more information on Florida’s spring harvest of supersweet corn and a wealth of serving ideas, visit www.freshsupersweetcorn.com.


Grilled Corn With Hotlips Chili ButterGrilled Corn With Hotlips Chili Butter

Diane Morgan—Author of Dressed to Grill

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 6 ears fresh supersweet corn, husked

Preheat outdoor grill or broiler. In a small bowl, combine butter, cilantro, salt, chili powder, sugar and ground red pepper. Brush corn lightly with mixture; grill, turning occasionally, until some kernels turn golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to platter; brush with remaining chili butter. Serve with grilled chicken and red pepper kabobs, if desired.

YIELD: 6 portions


Supersweet Corn and Pork Skewers

Ingredients

  • 3 ears fresh Supersweet Corn, husked
  • 12 ounces pork tenderloin or boneless, cooked chicken breasts
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small sweet red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat grill or broiler. With a large, sharp knife, cut corn in 2-inch pieces and the pork, zucchini and bell peppers in 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Add pork and vegetables; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. On eight (10- to 12-inch) metal skewers, loosely thread pork and vegetables. Grill or broil, turning occasionally, until meat is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. If desired, serve with salad greens. Pork and vegetables can also be cooked “unskewered” on a grill rack or broiler pan, for 8 to 10 minutes, turning often.

YIELD: 4 servings

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