Nothing says summer like sweet corn, freshly picked and piled high in bulging heaps at your local Greenmarket. It’s hard to beat simply boiled and served with butter, or with its silk removed but its husks pulled back over and tossed on the grill. Our new favorite preparation, though, is this take on the Mexican street snack esquites, from Cabrito chef David Schuttenberg. It’s even better than the kind you find served in Styrofoam cups with a dollop of Hellmann’s mayo along Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park.
David Schuttenberg’s Esquites
4 ears corn, husks removed
4 tbs. butter
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk epazote*, stems separated from leaves, and leaves finely chopped
1 lime, halved
Salt to taste
2 tbs. cotija cheese (available at many Mexican bodegas)
Chili powder to taste
*Note: The pungent Mexican herb epazote can be found fresh at some Greenmarket stands or Mexican groceries. If you can’t find it, substitute chopped cilantro leaves.
Over a hot grill or an open gas-stove flame (1) char two of the ears of corn until well blackened but not completely burnt. Remove from heat, and when cool enough to handle, (2) shave off kernels using a chef’s knife and reserve. Remove kernels from remaining two ears of corn. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter, then add onion and garlic. Sweat for 2 minutes. (3) Add raw corn kernels and stem from epazote, and sauté until corn is just cooked through, about five to seven minutes. Turn heat to high, add the charred kernels of corn to the mixture, and toss to combine until heated through. Squeeze the lime into the mixture. Season with salt. Remove epazote stem and spoon mixture into four bowls. Top each portion with the cotija cheese, a pinch of chili powder, and the chopped epazote leaves.