Colombian Grilled Corn with Butter and Cheese

Sometimes the idea of a dish surpasses its execution, for example, the grilled corn served on the cobblestone streets of one of the most perfectly preserved colonial cities in South America: Cartagena (the same Cartagena pictured in the original Romancing the Stone). The corn came the way I normally like it—husk off and charred over charcoal on a portable brazier, but the ears were starchy and dry and the “butter” turned out to be margarine of dubious freshness. Here’s how Colombian-style corn should be made, and if you’re lucky enough to try it with sugar-sweet summer corn and freshly grated Pecorino Romano, you’ll never think about corn quite the same way again.


  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or other hard grating cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper

You’ll also Need

  • Butcher’s string; 4 bamboo skewers, or 4 wooden chopsticks (optional); basting brush


Advance Preparation


  1. Cut the top ½ inch off each ear of corn. Strip a husk back as though you’re peeling a banana and tie it together at the base of the corn cob to form a handle; use butcher’s string or a piece of the corn husk for tying (see the photos). Alternatively, you can husk the corn and stick each ear on a thick bamboo skewer. Remove the silk. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.
  2. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.
  3. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the corn on the hot grate and grill it until nicely browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, 8 to 12 minutes in all, turning with tongs.
  4. To serve, using a basting brush, spread the softened butter over the corn. Working over a plate, thickly sprinkle each ear with cheese and black pepper.