In our house, we love the movie Nacho Libre. Of course it is silly, but it is also heartwarming and touching in many ways (with a great soundtrack too). Thankfully, most of it is safe for children because it is one of their favorites — but I am a little liberal when it comes to movies. Every time we see it, I seem to enjoy it more.
In one scene, Steven is eating street corn and it always looked absolutely delicious. And when he offers it to Nacho, he yells “get that corn outta my face” and swats it away. It has become a standard line in our house anytime corn is served. Actually, movie lines are a big part of almost everything we do (Hello National Lampoon’s Vacation? We can’t start a trip without some reference to it. OK, so maybe not that part I linked to though.)
When we saw that a local vendor started serving grilled corn at our farmer’s market, I immediately told the kids we were going to have Nacho’s “Get That Corn Outta My Face” for lunch that day. After trying it, my three year old decided we needed to call it “Get That Corn In My Face.” He devoured it. And then, somehow, ideas for Mexican Corn or Cuban Corn were everywhere. I saw recipes in Cooks Illustrated and my hometown newspaper all in the same week. It is apparently the “Tuscan” anything or the dulce de leche of this summer — somehow everyone decides it’s popular and pretty soon Pizza Hut is serving it.
I decided I was going to figure out my version of it in time for corn season — even though I generally don’t fuss too much with corn beyond boiling, buttering, and salting. I never want to risk the fleeting season by wasting a dozen ears on a dumb recipe. This, however, is worth it. It is divine. I will warn you that it is rich — much richer than the corn you are probably used to. Grilling the corn really enhances the sweetness and the kernels lose a little bit of their pop, making it almost meaty. The toppings make it even richer — so it’s almost a meal in itself. Definitely serve it with something light. If I could get my act together, I’d love to have a grilled corn party where I serve nothing but corn in this style with lots of different sauces and toppings. What a great end of summer party that would be … served up with appetizers and lots of real margaritas. And, of course, we’d all have to wear our stretchy pants.
Grilled Mexican Corn
Makes one dozen ears
1 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t smoked paprika
Zest of one lime
Pinch of chipotle powder (or more to taste if you like it spicy)
1/2 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 T butter, melted
1/8 t smoked paprika
1/8 t ground cumin
1/8 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 dozen ears of sweet corn
1 1/2 cups Queso Fresco, Cotija, or Feta Cheese (in small crumbles)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
12 wedges of lime
1. Mix ingredients for mayonnaise mixture in medium bowl. Mix ingredients for melted butter mixture in a small bowl.
2. Preheat grill and rub ears of corn with melted butter mixture.
3. Grill corn for about 8 minutes. (We used indirect heat and grilled the corn for about 8 minutes indirect, turning frequently, followed by about 1-2 minutes over the coals to char the ears lightly. I have also done this on a low flame gas grill — just be sure you are turning and moving the corn frequently so it doesn’t char too much. The goal is to have the corn be just cooked with a slight char on it.) Remove corn from grill and place onto a platter.
4. Put cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges in separate serving bowls next to platter of corn. Brush each ear of grilled corn with the mayonnaise mixture. Then sprinkle with cheese, cilantro, and the juice of a lime wedge. (You can do the whole platter or allow guests to prepare their own ear of corn.)