Elotes: Grilled Mexican Street Corn
One of our team lived in Chicago for 15 years. At the top of her list of favorite memories is, in the heart of summer, while living in the Ukranian Village, hearing the rattling bell of the elotes salesman coming closer and closer down the block. She swears elotes are the best street food from the city, but that it has to be purchased from a steamy cart at the corner of Paulina and Chicago Avenue and eaten right there in the hot, on the sidewalk, beneath the hand-painted Vivo Pollo sign of the local super mercado.
They're sweet and creamy, with an underlay of tartness from the crema and smoke from the fire.
But we figure you might not be able to slip up to Chicago on a whim, so we've grilled up our own Ohio River Valley version using Weber's Farm's sweet corn. These aren't healthy, but, heavens, they're tasty.
Kosher salt, to taste
4 ears corn, in husks
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup crema
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
4 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
A bottle of your favorite hot sauce
Crema can be replaced with ¼ cup sour cream + ½ tsp honey.
Cotija cheese can be replaced with same amount of finely grated parmesan.
Ancho chile powder can be replaced with same amount of chipotle or cayenne chile powder.
In a good sized mixing bowl, mix together mayonnaise and crema. Stir in half of the cotija and then set aside.
Husk corn--but do it gently to preserve the husks at the back end of your cob. Those will work as excellent "handles" both to turn on the grill and to hold on to while eating. If a husk paper or two come off, those are perfect for tying around the the husk handles with little knots. Keeps things tidy and it will impress your guests.
Prepare your grill. These cobs cook over direct heat.
On a charcoal grill: Prep your coals. When they're red hot with ash all over, dump to one side of your grill. Oil the grate and lay corn directly on grate with their husk handles hanging off the side of the grill. Rotate every few minutes to get a little browning/char all over. When colored to your taste, remove corn to a plate and allow to cool a bit. The sauce adheres better when not piping hot.
On a gas grill: Preheat your grill for ten minutes on high. Keep grill on high and put corn directly over high flame with their husk handles hanging off the side of the grill. Rotate frequently to get a little browning/char all over. When colored to your taste, remove corn to a plate and allow to cool a bit. The sauce adheres better when not piping hot.
When you're ready to eat, stand one ear at a time in the sauce bowl and use the back of a spoon to slather sauce all over the corn cobs. Then sprinkle with the remaining cotija cheese and a teaspoon each ancho chile powder and a pinch of salt. Serve with a slice of lime. (Or alternately, slather with sauce and let your guests put the extra sprinkles on as they see fit.)
Warning: This is messy eating. Expect this to be especially hard on the bearded gentlemen out there. It's totally worth it, but have a few napkins handy. You'll need 'em.