Corn makes you pay upfront. The hardest part is the first step, removing the husk. After that, the ears can be cooked by many methods with little fuss. My favorite fast way is boiling, but if you have the time and the day is cool enough, try roasting the corn. If you have grill fever, the grill will do just fine and impart its own magic.
Preparation: Shuck the corn and remove the silk. If the silk is stubborn, use a clean tea towel to rub it away. Microwaving is the preferred method for people who hate to shuck corn. After microwaving, the husk and silk come off easily.
Boiling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add as many corn ears as will fit comfortably without crowding. Cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. The ears will cook in the hot water. The fresher the corn, the faster the ears will cook; 5 to 7 minutes is usually sufficient. Just-picked corn could be done in as little as 3 minutes.
Roasting: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the husked ears with water so the ears are slightly damp, then wrap each damp ear in aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. It will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the kernels and the age of the corn. A good sign that the corn is ready is a delicious corn smell coming from the oven.
Grilling: Preheat the grill to medium. Rinse the husked ears with water, then wrap each damp ear in aluminum foil. Place the aluminum foil packages on the grill and close the lid. Rotate the packages about every five minutes so different sides of the corn cob are closest to the heat. The corn should be ready in 20 to 25 minutes. If desired, remove the cooked corn ears from the foil and place them directly on the grill to brown before serving.
Microwaving: Place the ear of corn, husk and silk still on, in the microwave. Cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of the microwave. Remove from the microwave and let the unhusked ear sit for 5 minutes. Shuck the corn and serve. If microwaving 2 ears, increase the cooking time to 4 to 6 minutes.
Ears of red corn, recently available in stores such as Harris Teeter and Whole Foods Market, also can be cooked several ways. They taste best when grilled, according to Doug Ranno, a managing partner at Colorful Harvest in Monterey, Calif. A few minutes of high heat turn the kernels of Scarlet Sweet Red Corn a deep maroon. When red corn is boiled, the kernels fade to purple and lose some of their hue. Ranno says some folks prefer to microwave it for just a minute or two, and then dress it with a butter sauce.
-- Stephanie Witt Sedgwick