Friday, July 26, 2013

In Season NW: Summer Means Corn

Contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood is a griller extraordinaire, and cooks on little else other than his Weber during the summer. I can tell already that this version of grilled corn is going to be appearing regularly on our summer table.

The summer’s heat means fresh corn, and it is a beautiful thing. Most of the corn grown for eating (as opposed to processing) is super sweet, not just a superlative description but a class of cultivars that have a lot more sugar than the older, plain old sweet varieties. It might not taste as “corny” as the sweet, but it doesn’t become starchy so quickly, a tradeoff I can live with since it’s no longer necessary to get the corn cooked immediately after picking.

I like fresh corn almost any way, but of course these days I’m cooking it over fire. I shuck the ears and put them right over the coals so those sugars can caramelize. I’ll even admit that most of the time I eat it with butter (sometimes olive oil, but corn on the cob seems made for butter), but I like to mix it up, too, by adding this very simple spice rub.

Grilled Corn with Za’atar & Aleppo Pepper

If you don’t have any za’atar in the cupboard, make a batch by toasting some sesame seeds, then mixing with ground sumac, dried thyme and Pantellerian oregano (I mix roughly equal parts, but some folks like more herbs than sesame and sumac). You may also need to drive to Barbur World Foods for a jar of the mildly spicy Aleppo pepper*, or substitute a mild chile powder (not as good, but okay).

Mix a couple of big spoonfuls of za’atar with half as much Aleppo pepper, add a little good salt (the Sicilian fine sea salt I have is perfect) and stir in enough extra virgin olive oil to make a thin paste.

Grill some corn, slather with the za’atar mix and eat.

* Aleppo pepper is also available at Penzey's and other stores that carry a wide range of specialty spices.

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