Mexican style corn-on-the-cob is my new obsession.
I always buy corn in the summer when it looks fresh. Piled high in a bin at a farmers market, a farm stand on the side of the road, or even just at my local grocery – I just can’t resist a corn “mountain.” Even when the grill is on, I usually microwave corn in the husk because it comes out so well that way. But, this weekend, I decided to grill it without the husk. I’ve been on an ancho chili kick of late, so I added it as a rub before grilling and sprinkled a few ingredients afterwards.
I’ve never had “real” Mexican street corn, called Elotes, so I can’t honestly tell you how this version compares. I can tell you that it is delicious and easy, with many possibilities for adding ingredients or taking it in new directions. If you don’t have a grill, you can roast the corn cobs in the oven, directly on the oven rack, with the husks still on but after removing the silk. In that event, you would brush on the chili and oil and then pull the husk back up over the corn for roasting.
Husking the corn brought back memories of my dad. Usually, it was difficult to tell how my dad felt about whatever food he was served – and he was served in true Mad Men-era fashion – usually by my mom. Always taciturn, (I used to kid that he made Silent Calvin Coolidge seem talkative), my dad would eat quietly. He was politely appreciative, but rarely demonstrative when it came to food, except when it came to fresh corn-on-the-cob.
If fresh corn was available, he would turn aside from whatever else was offered and eat only corn – 8 or 10 ears, smiling and chomping away with evident pleasure. My dad would probably smile at my efforts to “fancy up” corn-on-the-cob, preferring his boiled and plain. (He took the principled position that if corn is fresh enough and not overcooked, it does not even need any butter, or salt and pepper.) Still, I’d like to think he would taste this version and smile – and maybe even take a second ear.
Mexican-Style Corn-on-the-Cob (Grilled)
Servings – 4 Cost $1-2
- 1½ teaspoons of ancho chili powder (see my Mexican corn salad for more info on ancho chili powder)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons oil (I use olive oil)
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 small lime cut in half
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Ramekin or small bowl
- Pastry brush
- Cutting board
- Heat the grill. Husk the corn, removing both the outer layers and the silk inside. (For oven roasting directions, see above.)
- Mix the chili powder and the oil. Brush the corn with the chili and oil mixture on all sides.
- Grill the corn until it is slightly charred on all sides. It will not be uniform, but all sides should get a chance to cook directly over the heat. On my charcoal grill it takes about 10 minutes – how long it takes is dependent on the type of grill (charcoal or gas) and the intensity of the heat/flame.
- When the corn is fully grilled, brush on the mayonnaise, squeeze the lime over each ear, and sprinkle on the chopped cilantro, salt and pepper.