If you’ve ever been to Café Habana in the NoLita neighborhood in NYC, or the one that recently opened in Malibu, you know about their legendary grilled corn. This corn holds a special place in my heart because the restaurant was two blocks from our old apartment, and we were there at least once a week; curing hangovers with café con leche, scarfing a Chicken Diablo sandwich, or having an afternoon margarita.
Their corn is smothered in melted cotija cheese, smoky ancho chili powder and fresh lime juice. I have a feeling they start with a slathering of mayo as sticky base for the grated cheese. I used crème fraîche instead and it was perfect. Cotija is a Mexican cheese that falls somewhere between Parmesan and Feta; it is simple, salty and firm enough to grate. The cheese is then covered in a blend of ancho and cayenne pepper. At the last minute, squeeze on some fresh lime and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Hot, salty, smoky, cheesy, tangy… am I missing anything? Oh yeah… messy.
Grilled Mexican Corn
Ears of corn, removed from their husks
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh black pepper
crème fraîche (about a 1 tsp per ear)
Fresh Cotija cheese, grated on the fine panel of a box grater
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1. Preheat your grill over medium high heat. Rub olive oil on the corn and season with salt and pepper. Grill corn, turning occassionally, until charred in spots and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
2. Place the crème fraîche in a shallow dish or plate and roll the hot corn in it. Next, shower on a generous coating of Cotija cheese. Then sprinkle on both chile powders, to taste. Add more salt and pepper if desired. At the last moment, squeeze the lime over the corn and add chopped cilantro.