~ How to: Roast or "Bake" Sweet Corn in the Oven ~
Happy Father's Day! Almost nothing beats a serving of fresh, steaming corn on the cob, lacquered with butter and a sprinkling of salt. Sweet corn is not in season here in Pennsylvania (it'll be eight or so weeks before we see local corn at our farmers markets), but this morning, Joe came from the grocery store with a dozen really nice-looking cobs and I was impressed at the quality. He asked me to cook it to eat with his Father's Day cheeseburgers for dinner tonight, so, here I am, showing you one of my favorite, easiest ways to prepare sweet corn!
It was several years ago when I watched Tyler Florence roast sweet corn in his oven. It was (I believe) on an episode of his Food 911 show on The Food Network. It was such an obvious, logical, and simply brilliant idea, I tried it that very afternoon and never looked back. I always knew that corn could be roasted on my grill (Bobby Flay taught me that), but who would have guessed it would be just as good if done in the oven. It seems to me I should have thought of doing this myself, but, alas, it just never occurred to me!
Besides the obvious simplicity of it, there are a few very good reasons for roasting corn (on the grill or in the oven). First, roasting corn (either au natural in its husks, or, husks and silk removed and wrapped in aluminum foil) keeps the kernels really moist, juicy and plump. You might think that boiling/simmering accomplishes this, and, in it's own way it does, however, it also leaches out a lot of natural flavor... it's akin to the difference between green beans that have been steamed vs. green beans that have been boiled... no comparison in flavor or texture. Secondly, if you have a lot of corn to prepare all at once, without any pots, pans, fuss or bother, it doesn't take any longer to roast 24 cobs of corn than it takes to roast 2, and, your grill or stovetop are freed-up for the business of other culinary creations. Lastly, leftover roasted corn is fantastic when shaved off the cob and added to all sorts of things: casseroles, salads, soups, stews, salsas, cornbread and pancakes too!
I've gone so far as to "teach" (and I use this term loosely because this is so ridiculously simple there is no teaching involved) both roasting corn on the grill and in the oven in a few of my cooking classes. EVERYONE just loves it. Students have told me they will never cook corn any other way again. That being said, for some reason, a lot of them come back referring to it as "baked" corn, or say, "I baked the corn the way you taught us to". I always explain that from a culinary standpoint, while roasting and baking are very similar methods of dry heat cooking, one can't use the terms interchangeably!
What is the difference between roasting and baking?
Roasting is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to: solid types of food like meat, poultry and vegetables that maintain their basic structure before, during and after roasting.
Baking is a dry heat method of cooking that applies to: loose types of food like, bread, desserts (cakes, cookies, pies, etc.) and casseroles that rely upon baking for, and, emerge from the process with, structure.
So, technically, when cobs of sweet corn are cooked in the oven: they are roasted, not baked!!!
Place the corn, untrimmed and in the husks, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Remove corn from oven. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim off the silk-filled tip end from each cob. Pull back on the husk. The husk and silk will come loose easier than you ever thought possible, meaning: A LOT easier than it does when trying to remove it from uncooked corn.
Peel back the husks. At this point you can snap the husk end off, to remove it completely, or, you can do as Tyler Florence does and use the husk as a handle to hold the corn while you eat it, which is particularly convenient if your serving the corn in a rustic outdoor setting.
Note: If you do not peel back the husk, corn will stay warm enough to happily eat for about 20-30 minutes. How convienient is that!
Remove the husks and the silk from the corn. Place each cob on an appropriately-sized piece of aluminum foil.
Now, you have two options:
Lightly butter the top of each cob with about 2 teaspoons of room temperature, salted butter.
Serve as is, with your favorite toppings, with or without corn picks:
Special Equipment List: kitchen shears (optional); aluminum foil (optional); corn picks (optional)
Cook's Note: To learn more about sweet corn in general and the proper method for cooking sweet corn on the stovetop, you can read my post ~ The Corn Chronicles: Perfect Corn on the Cob ~ in Categories 4, 10 & 15!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)