Floyd Cardoz’s Corn on the Cob “Elote” with Cotija Cheese
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes (including 10-15 minutes to bring the water to a boil)
When doing research for El Verano Taqueria, the taco stands in the baseball stadiums of the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals for which I created the food and menu, I travelled to taco joints all over the country. Outside of what seemed like every single taqueria I visited, there would be a lady selling elote, steamed corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise and generously coated with cheese. When I describe this to most Americans, I see a reflection of my initial reaction when I first encountered it. People often assume a vaguely horrified look that can be summed up as, “Why, why would you smear mayonnaise all over perfectly fabulous corn on the cob?”
That’s probably why it wasn’t until my very last taqueria visit, to the one that was practically in my backyard – on 116th Street in Manhattan – that I finally tasted a sample, and at last I understood. This corn is amazing. It may sound like an odd combination, but it absolutely works: sweet, spicy, salty, and creamy. Trust me: You’ve just got to taste it to appreciate how very good it is. If you can’t find cotija cheese, Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano are good substitutes. Use very fresh corn. This is a summer thing.
6 ears corn, husked
227g grated cotija cheese
110g mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges (optional)
Fill a large pot with water, add sufficient salt to make it taste like seawater, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the corn, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
While the corn is cooking, place the cheese on a rimmed baking sheet.
Drain the corn. While it is still hot, brush each ear with mayonnaise and roll it in the cheese so that it is completely covered with cheese. Dust the corn with cayenne and serve with the lime wedges, if desired.
Extracted from Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books, approx €22), out now. Photograph by Lauren Volo.