How to Make Elote, or Crazy Street Corn

Food52 Guest Editor Pati Jinich is an authority on Mexican cooking and author of Pati's Mexican Table. Today, Pati shares a recipe that takes Elote, the famous Mexican street food, and brings it straight to your kitchen.

Messy goodness on a stick. That's what this is. Crunchy, juicy, sweet corn slathered in butter and mayo, coated in crumbled queso fresco, sprinkled with chile powder and salt, and drizzled with lime juice: it is one of those ubiquitous street foods of Mexico. I stalk street corn vendors when I am in Mexico, and my kids do exactly the same thing.

>>RELATED: A Japanese street food that will also have you going crazy: Shrimp Pancakes.

To keep us all out of jail, I give them a hit of the "crazy corn" at home. Though my boys tend to have radically different preferences, this is one where their preferences clearly align: they want everything on there. When you serve it, just lay out all the garnishes -- and lots of napkins -- and let them go.

Crazy Street Corn

Serves 6

6 fresh ears of corn, husked and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, if grilling
Unsalted butter, to taste
Mayonnaise, to taste
1 cup crumbled queso fresco, Cotija, farmer's cheese, or mild feta
Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste
Dried ground chile, such as piquín, ancho, chipotle, or a Mexican mix
3 limes, halved, for squeezing on top

1. Lightly brush the ears of corn with the oil. Place over an already hot outdoor grill or indoor grill pan set over medium heat until hot. Let the corn cook and char slightly, turning every 3 minutes, until tender and cooked through, 9 to 12 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the corn in a big pot of boiling water until tender, 4 to 8 minutes depending on the freshness of the corn.

2. Remove the corn from the heat and pile on a large plate or platter, along with corn holders or thick wooden skewers. Serve with the garnishes so everyone can fix their crazy corn the way they want. The traditional way is to spread on a layer of butter, then a layer of mayonnaise. Next, thoroughly cover the corn with the crumbled cheese, either by rolling the corn on a plate of the cheese or sprinkle it on. Finish with a shower of salt and ground chile, then a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice.

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More tried-and-true corn recipes:
Corn Salad with Cilantro & Caramelized Onions
Summer Corn Chowder

Photo by Penny De Los Santos