Smoky Sweet Corn Ribs

Smoky Sweet Corn Ribs

With their curved shape and handheld size, corn ribs are just as much fun to eat as their meaty counterpart. The fresh corn preparation went viral on TikTok in 2021, but restaurants like Momofuku Ssäm Bar were preparing this vegetarian side dish well before that. The good news is that you need little more than a very sharp knife to turn a humble ear of corn into a crispy-kerneled appetizer for your next backyard BBQ.

Some corn ribs recipes use a grill or air fryer; this version opts for the oven. While some grocery stores have started selling pre-cut corn ribs, the dish is better with freshly shucked summer corn. But even with the best knife skills, slicing a whole corn cob lengthwise can be daunting (not to mention dangerous). Instead, halve the cobs crosswise, then slice into stout quarters. With the cut into wedges, the juicy corn kernels have the opportunity to turn extra-crisp, almost like fried corn.

Similar to elote (Mexican street corn), you’ll slather the oven-baked corn ribs in a creamy, spiced spread while they’re still hot. Here a compound butter with smoked paprika, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder seasons the charred corn riblets with smoky, tangy flavor (not unlike your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce). If you like things spicy, amp it up with more black pepper or a pinch of chipotle powder. Or increase to 1 tsp. garlic powder for an extra savory kick.

The corn ribs only need about 20 minutes in the oven and are ready once the kernels turn lightly charred and crispy. If you want to go the extra mile, garnish the seasoned corn ribs with a fluffy sprinkle of fresh herbs, like parsley or cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving. 

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  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 450°. Using a chef’s knife and securing your cutting board by placing a damp kitchen towel underneath, cut 4 ears of corn, husked, in half crosswise. Working one at a time, stand each piece up on a cut end and slice lengthwise into quarters (you should have 8 wedges per ear). Transfer to a baking sheet. Drizzle with ¼ cup vegetable oil, season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss to coat. Spread out wedges evenly, arranging cut sides up.

    Step 2

    Roast corn 10 minutes, then turn cut sides down and continue
    to roast until kernels are tender and starting to blister and separate, about 10 minutes
    more. (If you’d like more color, move corn to top rack and broil about 1 minute.) Let
    cool slightly.

    Step 3

    Meanwhile, mix together ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, ¾ tsp. garlic powder, and ¾ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a small bowl.

    Step 4

    Serve corn ribs with butter mixture for spreading over.

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