Recipe of the Week: Elotes (with dignity/ aka Esquites)

Elote Elotes are street food found all over Mexico or in the States wherever Mexican-Americans assemble. Corn, roasted or boiled in the husk, served on a stick and smothered in mayo, cheese and spices—they are a perfect combination of creamy, spicy, and hot.

But they are a four-napkin affair. With a kernel-studded, cheese-spattered mug, your dinner party aura or sartorial poise might utterly collapse. So for those times when gnawing on a stick is ill advised, the corn is cut from the cob and served in a cup layered with the rest of the ingredients. So served they are called esquites and they make a great side dish for a Mexican feast.

I’m not a mayo fan, but it’s essential for this dish. But I give it a fresher flavor by adding corn milk scraped off the cob. You can char the cut corn on the stove or in the oven, but you lose the roasted flavor of grilled corn.

Recipe is below the fold.


Recipe: Elote in a Bowl (Esquites)

Serves 4


8 ears corn

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

1/2 cup Cotija Cheese (a hard, crumbly cow’s milk cheese)

2 limes, juiced, plus additional lime, quartered

3/4 tablespoon chili powder

3/4 tablespoon smoked paprika

3/4 tablespoon cumin

cayenne to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


1. Prepare a grill using high heat.

2. Soak four unhusked ears of corn in water for about 20 minutes

3. Husk and clean silk from remaining 4 ears of corn. Stand each ear of corn upright on a cutting board, and starting at the top, cut through kernels at about 1/2 their depth. Then with the back of a knife scrape off what is left on the cob mixing the cut pulp and the milk. Reserve pulp and milk. You should have about 6 tablespoons of milk. (the cut kernels can be saved for another use)

4. Combine mayonnaise, corn milk, and lime juice and reserve; then combine the spices and reserve (separately from the mayo mix)

5. Place ears of corn on the grill over the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes turning until husks are black.

6. Allow to cool slightly, then husk and clean the ears.

7. Put corn back on the grill and turn occasionally until some of the kernels are charred. (Too much char will produce dry kernels. Char just enough to produce a smoky flavor.)

8. Remove from grill and quickly cut kernels from the ears divided into 4 small bowls or cups.

9. Add mayonnaise mixture and cheese and mix

10. Add spice mixture to taste (You can decide how spicy you want the dish. Add cayenne if you want heat)

11. Salt to taste, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve immediately with a quartered lime for each bowl.


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