We normally think of corn husks in conjunction with tamales or something to throw away in pursuit of the golden kernels underneath. But Lourdes Castro, who teaches in the Food Studies department at New York University and is the author of the new cookbook Latin Grilling, has other plans for the protective sheaths. In her grilled corn on the cob, Castro leaves the husks on for the first half of cooking, which protects the ears and infuses the kernels with the husk's delicate flavor. The sweet charred corn gets served with spicy crema, queso fresco and a squeeze of lime to effortlessly capture the vibrant flavors of a Mexican street-food classic.
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Crema
Recipe adapted from Lourdes Castro, Latin Grilling (Ten Speed Press)
Cook Time: 4 hours prep and cook time
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
8 ears corn, husks on and silks removed
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, stemmed
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
2 limes, cut into wedges
1. In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, heavy cream and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set out at room temperature for 3 hours.
2. In a large stockpot filled with water, soak the ears of corn for 20 minutes. Remove the ears from the water, shake and tightly squeeze the husks against the kernels of corn to get rid of any excess water.
3. In a food processor, combine ½ cup of the prepared cream mixture with the chiles and puree until smooth. Reserve the rest of the cream mixture for another use. Set aside.
4. Turn a grill to high and close the lid. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to medium-high. Place the corn on the grill rack and grill for 5 minutes. Turn the corn over and grill for another 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and set aside to rest for 5 more minutes. In the meantime, keep your grill on with the lid closed.
5. Take the grilled ears of corn and pull back the husks, exposing the kernels but keeping the husks attached at the bottom. Increase the grill temperature to high and place a sheet of aluminum foil on one side of the grill. Place the pulled-back husks over the foil, allowing the exposed kernels to sit on the grill grates. (This is done so the husks don't burn before the corn can char.) Close the grill lid and allow the kernels to char so become dark and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Then turn the corn and char the other side. Remove the corn from the grill. Serve immediately alongside the chipotle crema, crumbled cheese and lime.