Grilling food in, or on, a "vessel" (corn husks, grape leafs, wood, banana peels) is not only a fun way to mix up your grill repertoire, it is easy, forgiving and yet one more reason to ditch the kitchen oven and get outside.
A lot of times, I strive to put the entire meal on the grill. By doing this and using a vessel, there is a lot less work and a lot more leeway. If I'm individually grilling root vegetables, I have to worry turning, burning and spacing. If I'm grilling in a vessel, I can easily balance my time by working the vessel over the different zones of the fire. No muss, no fuss. Plus, the presentation is pretty cool.
Corn Boats with Zucchini & Pepper Jack Cheese
Adapted from Epicurious
4 ears corn, unhusked
2 T olive oil
1 zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 cup red onion, finely chopoed
1 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese with hot peppers
2 T crushed corn tortilla chips
The first step is to make the corn boats. Take an ear of corn and pull back approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches worth of husk strips to expose the corn kernels. Remove the strip.
With the corn exposed, remove the cob from the husk by snapping the bottom. When done, you should be left with the "boat". Toot toot.
With one of the discarded pieces of husk, tie the end of the husks together. This is part presentation and part insurance policy so that the boat doesn't separate and its passengers parish over hot coals.
Cut the kernels off the cob and save. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add oil. Once heated, saute the zucchini until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt.
Add the corn kernels and onion to the skillet and saute for about 4 minutes. Then, cover the skillet and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Once tender, transfer the corn and onion to the bowl with the zucchini. Season with salt.
Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add in the cheese.
Preheat the grill for indirect medium heat. Spoon the zucchini and cheese mixture into the boats.
If you have some left over, like I did, a small cast iron skillet can easily help share the load.
When ready to grill, sprinkle the filled husks with the tortilla chips and then cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated.
Since this was an easy, one grill meal, it made sense to use a vessel for the protein, too. There is no easier or better "vessel" for fish than a plank of wood. Of course, if I was stranded at sea, I would certainly prefer a boat over a plank. However, when stranded on my grill, I'll take both.
For the cod, I changed out the fish from my planked haddock with lemon zest tartar sauce.
Everything fit on the grill and took about the same amount of time to cook. It's a "one grill" meal that lives up to its easy philosophy. We enjoyed the corn boats so much, we had them two nights in a row. With corn still everywhere, it was nice to have it presented in a slightly different fashion. Better yet, the boat "system" lends itself to a ton of variations. Add in some peppers, tomatoes, different cheese, or even other root veg. The possibilities are endless. Hell, you can even name/christen them if you fancy.
Next time you get ready to pitch those corn husks, don't think trash, think boat...and get stuffing.