Barbecue recipe: Steven Raichlen’s Corn Grilled with Garlic, Basil and Cheese

Elote, the traditional Mexican street corn with cheese, inspired barbecue master Steven Raichlen to create this Italian version. He calls it an Emilia-Romagna take on elote, a smoky-sweet dish with sizzling garlic butter and fragrant basil. The cheese — Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano — is up to you.

It’s one of 125 plant-centric recipes in Raichlen’s new cookbook, “How to Grill Vegetables: The New Bible for Barbecuing Vegetables over Live Fire” (Workman, $25).

Corn Grilled with Garlic, Basil, and Cheese

Serves 4


Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate

4 ears sweet corn in the husk

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

4 basil leaves, cut into thin slivers

Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup freshly and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese


Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high. Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.

Meanwhile, husk the corn: Cut the tapered ends off and strip back the husk as though you were peeling a banana. Strip them all the way back so you expose the entire ear, including the last inch at the bottom. Tie the husks back with butcher’s string — the idea is to make a handle for eating the corn. Alternatively, use one or two strips of husk to tie off the handle. Pull off and discard any silk (the fine filaments between the husk and the ear). Skip this step if your corn comes already husked.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the garlic and basil, and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, but not brown, about 2 minutes.

Lightly brush the corn on all sides with the garlic-basil butter and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the ears on the grate, sliding a foil grill shield — a folded layer of foil — under the tied-back husks to keep them from burning. Grill the corn until the kernels are darkly browned, rotating the ears every minute or so to ensure the ears cook evenly. You may hear some popcorn-like crackling — cool! Baste the corn with more garlic-basil butter as it grills. Total cooking time will be 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer the corn to a platter or plates and brush one final time with the garlic-basil butter. Sprinkle the corn on all sides with the grated cheese and dig in.

— Steven Raichlen, “How to Grill Vegetables: The New Bible for Barbecuing Vegetables over Live Fire” (Workman, $25)

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