Here are 2 natural ways to cook corn, without aluminum foil. Both recommend pre-soaking the corn and keeping the husks on while grilling.
Preliminaries. About an hour before serving, place the ears of corn in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and weight with a plate to keep them submerged. Light your charcoal fire and let it burn until the bed of coals is medium-hot; adjust the grill 4 inches above the fire.
Grill the corn. Lay the corn on the grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently, until the outer leaves are blackened. Remove, let cool several minutes, then remove the husks and silk. About 10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with melted butter, return to the grill and turn frequently until nicely browned.
Techniques. Soaking in Water, Roasting in the Husk: The preliminary soaking keeps the outside from burning right off the bat and the inside damp enough to steam. First roasting in the husk penetrates the corn with leafy flavor, but the step is often omitted—especially with sweet corn.
What’s Cooking America
Preparation: If the ears of corn have many layers of husk on them, peel off only the first couple of layers, leaving a few layers for protection. Do not remove all the layers.
Soak the whole cobs in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes. Be sure the ears are completely covered with water. This will provide extra moisture for cooking and will steam the corn kernels inside the husks.
While the corn is soaking, preheat the barbecue grill to a medium temperature (350 degrees F).
After soaking, remove the corn from the water and shake off any excess water.
Begin by pulling the husks of the corn back (but do not completely remove them). Remove and discard only the silk.
Brush the kernels with olive oil or butter. NOTE: I’ve used butter instead of olive oil, but I think butter is best applied after the corn comes off the grill just before you eat it.
If desired, before you re-wrap the corn in the husks, add a little garlic, chopped onion, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. For an international twist, try using herbs such as basil, cilantro, or oregano. Then reposition the husks back over the kernels and tie each ear with a piece of loose husk or twine.
Place the prepared ears of corn on a medium heat grill, rotating the corn as needed to keep it from getting charred too much on one side. After a couple of turns, place the corn husk on an indirect heat (moved to the side of the grill) or on the top shelf of your grill, and close the cover.
Allow the corn to slowly continue cooking for approximately 15 minutes.
As soon as the husk picks up the dark silhouette of the kernels and begins to pull away from the tip of the ear, the corn is ready to come off the grill. Don’t overcook the corn or it will become mushy. You know when you’ve gone too far if the corn cob flexes easily in your hands.
Remove the corn from the grill. Be careful and wear oven mitts as the corn will be very hot!
Grasping one end with an oven mitt or dish towel, peel the husks and silk from the top down (like a banana) – they should all come off in one piece. Ashes will get on the corn, but this is ok. If the corn is too hot to handle, do this part in the sink under warm running water.
Once you’ve removed most of the silk, rinse the corn under warm running water to remove any excess ash and silk.
Serve with butter and enjoy!