Roasted Corn With Ancho Chili Butter – Recipe


I’m more than a little obsessed when it comes to roasted or grilled corn. Anytime we go to a State Fair or Sons of Norway festival, I head straight for the corn booth, wolf down 3 ears and then regret that I don’t have room for a cream puff. Well, not until after we play Whack-A-Mole.

I’ve been working on the technique at home. Some folks like to peel back the husk, remove the silk, then tie the husk back up before roasting but I’ve never tried that. I just soak the whole ears in the sink or a clean bucket for 30 minutes, then roast for about 45 minutes over a moderate fire, turning occasionally. You can carefully peel back a bit of husk to see if the beautiful browning is starting to happen. When they are done, let them cool slightly, then peel the husk and remove the silk. I’d recommend gloves and you still have to be careful not to burn yourself.

The ancho chili butter I made to go with the corn has one of the highest yumminess to difficulty ratios of anything I’ve made in awhile. It tastes great right after you make it, but if you can let it rest in the refrigerator overnight, the fruitiness of the pepper comes out. Just be careful when working with the chilis so you don’t get any hot stuff in your eyes or elsewhere. Wear gloves, and work over a surface you can easily clean.

Of course this technique of making compound butters can be applied to just about any herb, spice or flavoring you crave.

(Chili pepper can also be spelled chile pepper, and anchos are sometimes mistakenly called pasilla; if you don’t have ancho peppers, you could also use (real) pasillas, New Mexicos, mulatos, or California chilis.)

Ancho Chili Butter
Yields 8 tablespoons, enough for 6 ears of corn
Vegetarian and gluten-free, not vegan

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted (sweet cream) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 dried ancho chilis
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Lightly toast the chilis using tongs over a flame, or in a dry skillet.
  2. Allow to cool, then carefully (see discussion above), remove the stem and seeds.
  3. If you have a mini food processor, put the chilis and the lemon juice in it and grind as fine as possible. You’ll have to push it down a bunch of times. Then add the butter and salt and process until well mixed. The chilis will still be in small bits, not perfectly smooth, but they will soften in the butter so that is fine.
  4. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the chilis as fine as possible with a knife or use a mortar and pestle. Then mix in the butter and salt.
  5. Refrigerate in a ramekin, or wrap into a log shape in parchment paper.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Saturday, July 19th, 2008 in Recipes, Side Dishes.

7 Responses to “Roasted Corn With Ancho Chili Butter – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    July 19, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    I discovered my favorite way to eat corn in Kenya…grilled then rubbed with lime and chili powder. This butter sounds like it will be a great alternative. Plus, I have never made a compound butter before so it’s also fun to do something new!

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 19, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    The Kenyan way sounds amazing!

  3. Reply
    July 20, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    “highest yumminess to difficulty ratios”

    we need more things in life with this 🙂

  4. Reply
    July 20, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    i, too, eat more than my fair share of roasted corn. it’s quite possibly my favorite side of all time. your ancho chili butter sounds amazing and its inclusion just might seal the deal. awesome.

  5. Reply
    July 20, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    That is one beautiful ear of corn. I have a shoe-box size kitchen in a NYC apartment, but I can dream, can’t I?

  6. Reply
    July 21, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    We do a lot of grilled corn in summertime. I will have to try your ancho chile butter in one of our grillout sessions.

    What other dishes could you use this butter with?

  7. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks everybody! Nate, good question. You could generally use this anywhere a southwestern flavor and a little fat would be appropriate. I’d generally use it to finish a dish, not saute in it. Some ideas:

    – corn off the cob saute with onions and peppers
    – on top of an omelette with southwestern or mexican fillings
    – on toasted bread as the beginning of a sandwich, instead of mayo
    – i wonder how it would be as the basis of a beurre blanc (obviously not blanc, white)
    – on just about anything coming off the grill, veggie or not

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