Grilled Corn with a Twist
This way of serving grilled corn on the cob, which is so popular all over Mexico, came to me when I was thinking about serving corn at an upcoming BBQ. My goal with this dish was to capture all the flavors of the traditional dish without the mess. The upside of this recipe is that all the prep can be done several days ahead, including making up the corn packages. Then, all you have to do when it comes time to serve is place them on the grill to warm the corn. Slit the hot corn packages open, top with crema, cheese, and chile powder, and you have a dressed up version of elote asado.
1 8 ounce package of large dried corn husks
12 ears sweet corn, husks and silk removed
1 gallon brine mixture (see Testing Notes)
1 cup Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraiche
1/2 cup Mexican queso anejo or other grated garnishing cheese like Romano or Parmesan
1/4 cup ancho or guajillo chile powder
2 limes cut into wedges
Place the husks in a large bowl and cover with very hot water. Weight them down with a plate to keep them submerged, and let stand for a couple of hours until the husks are pliable.
Place the cleaned ears of corn into a container along with the brine and let sit for several hours while the corn husks are softening. (You can choose to skip this step, but in addition to adding moisture to the corn, it's also seasoning it.)
Heat the grill to high. Remove the corn from the brine and grill about 6 minutes, turning occasionally until the corn is lightly charred on all sides. Remove from the grill and let cool. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs. If you've skipped the brining step, you'll need to season the corn with salt.
Drain the husks, lay out 12 of the largest ones for wrapping the grilled corn. Use several of the remaining corn husks to tear into 1/4-inch strips for tying the corn packages. You'll need 24 strips. Scoop 3/4 cup of grilled corn into the middle of each of the 12 husks. Fold the side closest to you over the mound of corn to cover it. Take the opposite side and bring it up and over to seal the package. Twist and tie off both ends using the corn husk strips you prepared. If you're preparing them ahead, arrange them on a tray and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to serve, place the corn packages on the grill over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the corn is hot. Remove them to a platter, slit the packages open and pass the crema, cheese, chile powder, and lime around so that each of your guests can add the toppings of their choice.
Testing Notes: To make the brine, combine 1 gallon cold water with 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir to combine. Soak the ears of corn in this brine for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours. This not only seasons the corn, but also provides extra moisture, so that the corn can stand up to the heat of the grill. This method was developed by the Cook's Illustrated Test Kitchens and originally aired on their Cook's Country TV show.