Baking corn allows you to cook as many cobs at one time as will fit in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet, saving you the trouble of cooking multiple batches of corn in boiling water or a steamer. Even more significant are the concentration of flavors and the more complex tastes that some of the kernels produce when you roast the corn; the kernels turn golden brown from caramelizing sugars, a phenomenon called the Maillard reaction.
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- Corn cobs
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter per cob
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
The most important part of cooking corn on the cob in the oven is getting the oven really hot; let the oven heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The corn cooks just as easily at 400 degrees F, but less browning occurs at lower temperatures.
To make the corn, shuck the cobs and remove all the silky strands. Rub the cobs with olive oil or butter on all sides using your hands, or melt the butter and use a pastry brush. Sprinkle each cob with a little salt and pepper.
Place the cobs in a baking pan and cook them for 10 to 20 minutes, turning them with tongs two or three times. The corn will be done when you see that some of the kernels have turned slightly golden.
The corn will be very hot when you remove it from the oven. Use tongs or pot holders to transfer the cobs to a serving platter or individual plates. Let the corn cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
Keeping the Corn Moist
Baked corn will be ready to eat in about 10 minutes; will begin to develop browning after 12 minutes; and will have some kernels slightly charred for another layer of flavor after 20 minutes. To help ensure that the corn stays moist, take the cobs out of the oven after 12 minutes of cooking, after they gain an intensity of flavor, but don't have any deep brown or charred kernels.
If you value moist corn on the cob over intensity of the corn's flavor, wrap the cobs in foil before placing them in the oven. This method cooks the corn by steaming it as opposed to roasting it with dry heat.
Cooking and Seasoning Variations
Very little beats fresh corn on the cob with butter, salt and pepper, but variations abound to keep your interest in corn alive all summer long:
- Make Mexican street corn by serving a seasoning mixture alongside the corn made with mayonnaise, lime juice and chili powder.
- Flavor the butter for corn with Parmesan cheese.
- Cook corn on the cob for a crowd by pouring boiling water into a picnic cooler with shucked corn placed in it. Allow the water to cover the corn and let it poach for 30 minutes.
- Bake the corn in their husks, and pull back the husks and the silk before serving it. This method more closely resembles steaming than it does roasting.