Okay, so, I learned the first rule of bloggerdom this weekend. If your cooking behind is gonna post a pic of Mexican Street Corn on social media, you’d better be hustling to get the blog post written and published- quick, fast and in a hurry. That or else you’re going to get Facebook-jumped. Rookie mistake, I assure you. It will not happen again. Please stop threatening my life.
My word! I posted this picture on my Instagram and people went savage in my DM’s!
“I guess you just want to tease people, huh?”
“Don’t you think it’s rude for you to put it up and not give a recipe.”
“I’m coming over.”
Saying I was taken aback would be an understatement.”Climactic buildups” don’t bode well with certain dishes, I suppose. I was trying to create anticipation for, this, my third recipe in a Cinco de Mayo series. You can check out recipe one, here, and recipe two, here. Rest assured, I bounded up to my office to upload the pics and get to writing. I’m faking like I wasn’t the same ruthless person when I first experienced elotes in El Paso. Yes, I’m talking about El Paso, again. El Pasoans know what they’re doing when it comes to Mexican food and I needed to know what they knew, ya know?
Certain parts of El Paso are gritty- not unlike many cities across the country. El Pasoans, however, have an uncanny ability to make you feel loved and safe even in the most hardscrabble neighborhoods. So it was when our family started attending a church with a fairly large congregation. Our church had smaller groups that would meet together once a week to conduct bible study and fellowship. The group, mostly Mexicans from Juarez, welcomed us with open arms.
At the beginning of our meeting we spent time discussing our faith, the end was filled with: “Spanish Translations 101.” This was the period of the of the evening where we questioned the different idiosyncrasies of the Juarense Spanish dialect vs. the Puerto Rican Spanish dialect. I’m sure many non-Spanish speakers would ask the question, “Waitamin’…there’s a difference?” To which I’d emphatically respond, “Uh…YEAH!”
The word corn is a prime example. In Puerto Rico, corn is called maíz, whereas our Mexican friends call corn, elote. One or the other group would spend hours debating on why their word was correct and that they, in fact, were clearly the superior Spanish-speakers. Every week, we’d come up with a new word to argue over, and every week we’d end the night laughing and eating amazing food- be it Mexican, Puerto Rican or a combination of the two.
Our love for this Mexican Street Corn came from those precious times of fellowship with our warm-hearted, jovial friends. Elotes converted my husband to corn-ism. Hector was fed corn so often as a child that, eventually, he grew to despise the stuff. Year three of our marriage he, finally, confessed that he wanted to hurl every time I put it on the dinner plate. I thought he was being a diva. In spite of that, I accommodated his inner-Patti Labelle and took it out of my culinary repertoire. That was until El Paso and its uncanny ability to make even corn tha bomb.
Journey to any event in El Paso- be it a fair, party, or, my personal favorite, the rodeo; and you will find elotes in any direction you turn. The minor league baseball stadium concession stands even sell Mexican Street Corn! Clearly, I underestimated others love for Mexican street corn when I posted the infamous pic of my version this past weekend. There’s not much to dislike in this dish. I mean, we’re talking about fire-roasted sweet corn-on-the-cob that is slathered in a creamy and tangy schmear. I then sprinkle the corn with crumbled cotija cheese and all sorts of other accoutrements. If the description doesn’t motivate you, the images sure will.
My crema schmear is a mix of Mexican crema agria (or sour cream) and mayo. Yes, because mayo is like love in viscous form. Take a gander around at this blog and you’re sure to discover that I make sport out of pumping my recipes full of flavor. I like to cook like I like to live life- full-throttle. As a result, I add a bigger punch of tang by squeezing in fresh lime juice, folding in chopped cilantro, and seasoning it (the schmear) with a Mexican staple called Tajín.
I would totally sprinkle everyone I love with Tajín if it wasn’t, so…well, disturbing. Tajín, a classic Mexican seasoning, can be dusted on fruits and vegetables. It’s used to make my Mexican Spice Blend, because it already contains chili powder, lime and salt. I’m such a huge fan of it, that by the time I’ve finished covering my food in my preferred amount of Tajín, it’s darn near red. As a result of the chili powder, it has a bit of kick to it. Twink B doesn’t care much for spicy foods, so, often, she omits it- something you can totally do as well.
Cotija cheese is my favorite to use in this recipe. A cow’s milk cheese, it is similar in taste to feta; however, in a pinch, parmesan can be substituted. Since cotija is widely available, even in the smallest towns, I would recommend using it for this dish.
Without further ado, and in fear of my social media safety, here’s the recipe:
Mexican Street Corn
Yield 6 servings
Choose heavy ears of corn with the husks still in tact. Cotija cheese is recommended, but parmesan can be substituted.
charcoal for grilling
6 ears of sweet corn, husks still on
1 cup Mexican crema agria (or sour cream)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Tajín classic seasoning, plus more for garnishing
1 bunch chopped cilantro, separated
1 cup Cotija cheese, finely grated or crumbled
Prepare your grill for cooking using your preferred method. Your grill should be heated to 450°F. You should be able to hold your hand 6 inches from the grilling surface for about 6 seconds before it becomes unbearably hot.
Place your un-shucked ears of corn directly onto the grill and allow to steam, inside the husks, for 15 minutes turning twice throughout cooking time to prevent burning.
While your corn is steaming, mix the crema schmear: in a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the crema agria, mayo, lime juice, garlic, Tajín, and 1 tbsp of the chopped cilantro. Whisk to combine and set in the fridge until later.
Once the corn's cooking time has elapsed, use tongs to transfer them to a platter. Allow to cool slightly, then husk the corn. I like to peel back the corn husks and tie them with a strip of the husk. It looks fancy and provides a great handle for eating; but you can remove the husks altogether, if you'd prefer.
Return the corn to the heat and allow the corn to char, rotating frequently to prevent burning. Charring the corn allows the flavor of the corn to become nuttier and more complex.
Once your corn is back on the grill, grab your bowl of crema, the Cotija cheese, the remaining chopped cilantro and the Tajín seasoning. Set up an assembly line placing the items in the order I've just listed.
Transfer the corn to the platter once again and set it near your assembly line.
Once the corn has cooled enough to handle, begin preparing it by spreading on a liberal amount of crema.
Follow with a generous dusting of the Cotija cheese and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. Finally, douse it with your preferred amount of Tajín.
Serve and enjoy!
Mexican crema agria can be found in most markets next to the sour cream or in the cheese section.
Cotija cheese is usually found in the same section as most cheeses. If you're unable to locate it, grated parmesan or crumbled feta can be used as substitutes.
Tajín is commonly found in the Hispanic section, or in the spice aisle, of most major supermarkets.
The crema mixture can also be used as a condiment for tacos or nachos. It keeps well for up to three days in the fridge. It can also be made up to two days ahead.