Charcoal Grilled Corn with Cream, Cheese and Chile
Makes 6 Servings
This recipe is from my first cookbook, Authentic Mexican.
6 ears fresh sweet corn, in their husks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
About 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream mixed with a little milk or cream
1/3 cup crumbled Mexican queso anejo or queso fresco, or cheese like parmesan, feta or farmer’s cheese
About 1 tablespoon hot powdered chile
Preliminaries. About an hour before serving, place the ears of corn in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and weight with a plate to keep them submerged. Light your charcoal fire and let it burn until the bed of coals is medium-hot; adjust the grill 4 inches above the fire.
Grill the corn. Lay the corn on the grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently, until the outer leaves are blackened. Remove, let cool several minutes, then remove the husks and silk. About 10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with melted butter, return to the grill and turn frequently until nicely browned. Serve right away, passing the cream, cheese and powdered chile for your guests to use to their own liking.
Soaking in Water, Roasting in the Husk: The preliminary soaking keeps the outside from burning right off the bat and the inside damp enough to steam. First roasting in the husk penetrates the corn with leafy flavor, but the step is often omitted—especially with sweet corn.
Corn: The meaty, nonsweet field corn used in Mexico can be prepared as directed; those who like no-nonsense eating will love the texture.
Powdered Chile: Powdered chile de arbol is the cayenne of Mexico. My favorite choices, though, are powdered guajillo and New Mexico chile - they’re less hot, so I can put more on.
Timing and Advance Preparation
Start soaking and fire building an hour before serving. There is little else to do in advance; if you plan to have your charcoal fire going for a long time, you may complete the in-husk steaming well ahead of the final grilling.
Fresh Corn, Fried (Esquites)
In Toluca and Mexico City the corn is occasionally prepared as follows: Cut the kernels from 6 cobs, then fry in 3 tablespoons lard or vegetables oil (or butter) with hot green chile to taste (seeded and sliced) and 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped epazote. Season with salt.