The La Colombe 4th of July Series: During this week, we’ll be posting three interlocking recipes, designed for backyard grilling and outdoor eating.

Recipe One: Elotes
Makes: Six
Coffee: Pure Black

Taco Riendo is a neighborhood corner tacqueria that we go to for a couple reasons: the atmospheric perfection of its small backyard seating area and the culinary perfection of its elotes, a charred corn, cheese and spicy mayonnaise combination that works with everything else we order – which is a lot. Traditionally a street food, elotes brings together the most significant components of southwestern and Mexican cooking: corn, domesticated in Central Mexico over 7000 years ago, and smoked paprika and chili powder, descendants of the ancient capsicum crop spread across the region by the 16th century Spanish Conquistadors who followed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Colorado.

Elotes is something that only gets better the deeper we get into local corn season, and here’s a list of where you can go in our region – eastern Pennsylvania – to pick your own.

Heads up: We’ve never tried it, but a friend told us to add a pinch of coffee rub in with the chili powder. And if ever you were to do that, this is what we’d use: Just Cook Herbed Coffee Rub, which includes oregano, cumin, and chipotle – so that makes sense. In any case, it’s our favorite.

6 ears corn (in husks)
1 batch chili mayonnaise*
4 ounces Cotija cheese, grated fine and placed in a 9 x 13 baking dish
›       Hard, crumbly cow’s milk cheese from Mexico. Substitute Dry Vella Jack, an aged grating Monterey Jack made in Sonoma by the Vella family since 1931.

New Mexican chili powder
Chopped cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

Get ready: Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Place corn (in husks) on sheet pan, and roast in hot oven until completely cooked and aromatic, turning each ear halfway through, about 30 minutes total. Remove from oven, and cool until easy to handle.

Working one ear of corn at a time: Peel back husk, leaving it attached at the base of the cob to create a handle. Discard silk. Holding corn by husk handle, rotate over open gas flame or place directly on hot grill until kernels are lightly charred, about 30 seconds. Still holding husk handle, thoroughly coat corn with chili mayonnaise. Sprinkle grated cheese over entire surface, rotating cob as you go. (Work over the baking dish so cheese that falls off can be reused.) Place coated cob on large platter (husk side out for easy serving), and repeat with remaining ears.

Sprinkle coated corn with chili powder and chopped cilantro. Serve surrounded by lime wedges.

*Chili Mayonnaise
Reserve 1-cup vegetable oil in container with pouring spout. Whisk together 1 large egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon lime juice until frothy. Add a few drops of oil to egg mixture, whisking continuously to get emulsification going (will start to develop smooth texture and lighten in color). Slowly increase oil to steady drizzle, and continue whisking until all the oil is emulsified into the egg. Add zest from one lime,1/4-teaspoon Mexican chili powder, 1/4-teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika, 1/8-teaspoon cayenne powder, 6 dashes Tabasco and 1/2-teaspoon kosher salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

After refrigeration, the small spots that may appear on surface of mayonnaise are just salt crystals that didn’t fully dissolve. They will disappear after a quick stir.

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