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Grilled Sweet Corn with Maple-Cayenne Butter

Summer’s fresh corn has a natural sweetness, which is nicely enhanced by the smoky flavors imparted by the grill. Grade B maple syrup boasts a complementary sugariness and a slight smokiness that serves as a counterpoint to the spicy cayenne in the rich butter topping.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 lemon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Pinch of sea salt, plus more, to taste
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 4 ears of fresh sweet corn
  • Canola oil for grilling

Directions:

In a bowl, mix together the butter and maple syrup with a wooden spoon. Finely grate the zest from the lemon into the bowl. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice from one half into the bowl (reserve the remaining half for another use). Mix well. Add a pinch each of cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, and stir to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spoon the butter mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate it until firm, about 1 hour.

About 15 minutes before you plan to serve the corn, prepare a hot fire in a grill.

Shuck the corn, leaving a few leaves from the husks on, if desired, for a more rustic look. Rub each ear evenly with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, coating all sides. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until browned in spots and tender, 12 to 14 minutes.

Transfer the corn ears to a warmed serving platter. Cut slices of butter from the log and place 1 slice on top of each ear, letting the butter melt and then spreading it over the corn, coating all sides. Serve immediately. Pass the remaining maple-cayenne butter at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).