Rescue Mediocre Corn On The Cob With Sumptuous Compound Butter

Shopping for produce can be a bit of a gamble, especially if you're fantasizing about the peak of summer's bounty. Corn on the cob in markets often wears its silk and husk clothing, concealing either sweet, tender, or less-than-ideal kernels. And even if you shuck your corn in the store or market, leaving the corn husk mess behind, you're never entirely certain how good that corn will be until you've cooked and tasted it. Fortunately, there's a creative condiment that will not only elevate excellent ears but will positively rescue corn on the cob that's not very impressive.

Compound butter is your so-so corn's salvation. In general, the only limit for what ingredients can go in compound butter is your imagination, along with your palate's preferences. In most cases, it starts with room-temperature butter and you simply mash it together with any flavorings you choose. And while you can certainly use our more inventive versions — like crawfish butter or Korean barbecue butter — to slather flavor on your corn on the cob, it may even be more fun to build a butter that's specifically designed to harmonize with fresh sweet corn.

What flavors make great compound butter for corn?

How do you like your corn on the cob? Just about any flavors you like paired with corn are fair game for your compound butter. You can start simple, with Old Bay and a little lemon zest, for a lightly spicy, salty, built-for-corn version. Or you can peruse your herb garden for rosemary, thyme, or even some lime basil to finely chop and add to your butter. Or consider making an elote-inspired mix, with some cotija cheese, lime zest, Tajin seasoning, and fresh cilantro.

Whatever flavor you add to your butter, the method for making and storing it couldn't be simpler. Once you've blended together all your ingredients to combine them with room temperature butter, put it on waxed or parchment paper, roll it into a log, wrap to seal, and then refrigerate it. You'll have flavorful compound butter that you can slice as you need it, whether it's for perking up lackluster corn on the cob or for dressing up a grilled ribeye.