Elote: Mexican Street Corn
As a child, I believed summer corn on the cob was one of the tastiest and perfect foods to eat. The New Jersey (aka The Garden State) farm stands of freshly picked deliciousness are burned in my memory.
Like opening a present, you peel away the husks and silks revealing the yummy gift. Oh, that first sweet bite and the crunching sound emanating from it. There couldn’t possibly be anything better. Or could there be?
Yep. There is: Elote.
One of the few crops indigenous to the New World, from 6600 BCE–3500 BCE, starting in Honduras, corn was domesticated, becoming a staple for indigenous peoples from Peru to Mexico. In the 15th and 16th centuries, thanks to Columbus bringing corn from the Caribbean to Europe, it was called maize, taken from the word mahiz used by the Taino people who at the time of Columbus’ exploration were the principal inhabitants of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles.
Charred corn, butter, mayonnaise, chili powder, cotija cheese, lime and cilantro. Quick and easy to make incredible eats. Better plan on more than one per person! These flavors have also inspired other recipes.
In Tucson, there are many great restaurants who’ve put their spin on elote. Empire Pizza has an elote pie; Toro Loco Tacos features street corn chicken tacos and burros; an elotero hot dog can be had at The Black Top Grill; the Nook‘s menu has street corn avocado toast; Zio Peppe has elote arancini (which I’ve had like three times); the Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton has elote by itself or on frybread and Charro Steak & del Rey features it, too.
On July 8, join Gary Hickey, chef-partner at Charro Steak & del Rey and the Flores family’s 10 other Tucson, Phoenix and Las Vegas Flores Concepts and Si Charro restaurants, for an in-person and Zoom Surf & Turf Tucson Style class. The restaurant’s private dining room is the setting. His menu: Tableside Guacamole—Willcox tomatoes, red onion, pepita, cotija cheese and lime; Surf & Turf entrada of grass-fed, all-natural, hand-trimmed filet mignon, 100% sustainable shrimp and cilantro pesto chimichurri with their award-winning Esquites con Crema—charred corn, crema, cotija cheese, green chili and lime; and dulce is Margarita Flan. Just three seats are left so reserve yours and enjoy this special evening.
Wishing you joy in the kitchen,
Grilled Pineapple Elote Bowl
Recipe credit: Allrecipes
1 medium fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into ½-inch rings
2 ears corn, husks and silks removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or more as needed, plus enough for grill grate
2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons crema Mexicana (Mexican cream)
2 dashes hot sauce of your choosing or more to taste
2 tablespoons cotija cheese, crumbled
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped with some whole leaves reserved for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lime, cut in wedges
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
2. Brush pineapple and corn with oil and carefully place on the grill. Cook pineapple until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Flip and leave on heat just until grill marks appear on the second side, about 3 minutes more; don’t overcook or it will become mushy.
3. Grill corn, turning throughout, until somewhat charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill and cool until safe too handle, then cut kernels off cobs into a bowl.
4. Assemble 2 bowls by spooning equal amounts of rice into the bottom and topping each with ½ the corn kernels. Spoon crema over corn and drizzle with hot sauce. Add 2-3 pineapple rings to each bowl and top with cotija cheese and cilantro. Add salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.
Photo credit: Delish