Sometimes it’s the simple things that stand out. This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made and yet it is by far the best corn on the cob ever. Perfect grilled corn is smothered with a compound butter of smoked espelette peppers, sea salt and honey for a combination that is sweet, savory, and slightly smoky with a hint of spice. I created this recipe a few years ago for a farm to table meal and it was instantly proclaimed “life changing corn.”

Basque Spice on an American Classic

Piment d’ Espelette is a Basque chili pepper so critical in their cuisine they call it the third spice. Salt, pepper and the unique sweet and spicy Espelette pepper form the basis of their signature flavors. Fortunately we now have a version of this much sought spice grown right here in California. Piment d’ Ville is grown in Napa Valley from the seeds of the Espelette. It began as the passion project of a chef who wanted to grow the prized pepper for his restaurant. The flavor profile is like a smoked paprika but more complex and spicy. Paired with the sea salt and honey you get a sweet, spicy, salty combination that compliments the sweetness of the corn.The husks make a beautiful rustic handle and the corn grills up perfectly.

Perfect Grilled Corn

Growing up in Ohio corn on the cob was a staple of the summer diet. It wasn’t fancy but it was always delicious. Back then we always boiled the corn, but after moving to California I realized grilling it was so much easier. The grill is already hot, why bother with the pot of water? Then I found this amazing trick that requires no oil, no tin foil and not even those little corn holders and I was hooked. This simple technique for grilling the corn will have you wondering why you ever did it another way. Turn the corn every few minutes when you see it turning golden brown and beginning to char.

First dump your ears of corn into water for at least 30 minutes. Then gently peel back the husks, not pulling them all the way off, and removing the silk. Tie butchers twine around the husks to create a sort of handle and place the corn back in the water with the husk side down.

Next get the grill as hot as you can on one side. With the coals or gas grill heated completely on one side, place the corn so that the corn directly over the heat and the husks are on the cooler side of the grill. DO NOT USE OIL. Turn the corn every few minutes to get an even char on all sides. You want some nice dark brown bits but not really burnt.

Ingredients

  • 6 Ears corn on the cob (husks intact)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons Piment d’ Ville
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of Sea Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the corn for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel back the husks, discard the silk and tie the husks to create a handle.
  3. Soak again while heating the grill as hot as possible on one side only.
  4. Meanwhile In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low/medium heat.
  5. Add the honey and heat till the honey starts to bubble a bit.
  6. Stir in Piment d’Ville and Sea Salt and remove from heat.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking then set aside.
  8. Place the corn directly on the grill, NO OIL, turning every few minutes to get an even char on all sides.
  9. Remove corn from grill and drizzle with butter mixture.

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