[Recipe] Mexican-Style Sweet Corn Off the Cob

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We always are feeling a little corny here in South Florida. The local season runs from December to June according to Fresh From Floridaand Restaurant Michael Schwartz chef de cuisine Molly Brandt isn’t wasting any time getting it on the menu. Yes, sweet corn is just starting to crop up, the start of a pretty broad season as far as a locally-grown ingredient is concerned.  This is good news for both chefs and foragers, as there’s not much variation season to season.

“Corn is a pretty resilient crop,” explains Chris Padin of Farm to Kitchen. “It can grow in such a wide range of climates so you don’t see much damage even when the weather is unseasonable. We get bicolor sweet and yellow sweet and haven’t really seen any farms working with heirloom varieties yet. We typically like to give the harvest a few weeks before offering it to the chefs but this year it’s been great out of the gate particularly with some new organic corn from Bee Heaven’s Margie Pikarsky who is sourcing from Belle Glade up in Palm Beach County. It usually starts sooner and over the past couple of weeks I’ve actually been sampling it in our produce boxes and getting good feedback.”

Make Molly’s off-the-cob side the star of your home kitchen with the recipe below and sign up for Chris’ Farm to Kitchen produce boxes through a general inquiry on its new website here.  Or be entertained and enjoy it from Molly’s kitchen while Markus Gottschlich & Friends take center stage this Thursday, December 18 at 8:00 p.m. as the hotel’s live Jazz Nights series with Steinway & Sons continues.  Follow Molly on Instagram @cookinthekitch, where she frequently posts daily specials at Restaurant Michael Schwartz at The Raleigh Hotel.

Mexican-Style Corn Off the Cob with Queso Fresco and Jalapeño Aioli

There’s something about street foods that make mouths water mere mention. Whether from a memory of travels or a taste of home, Mexican-style corn is one of those things that you just want to eat! It’s a tastebud popping dish and very easy to make, here served as a side to accompany any meal.

Ingredient note: Espellete pepper

The Espelette pepper is a variety of chili pepper that is cultivated in the French commune of Espelette, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, traditionally the northern territory of the Basque people.  Chefs like it for its subtle spice, hint of smoky, sweetness, and light floral quality. And that deep red color! It is classified as an AOC (“controlled designation of origin”) product particular to its geographic provenance.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 scallions, sliced on the bias
4 sprigs of cilantro, leaves only
2 tablespoons Jalapeño Aioli (recipe below)
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
Espelette pepper, to garnish
2 lime wedges

Place a large sauté pan over high heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil begins to smoke add the corn kernels all at once and season with salt. Allow the kernels to char slightly for about a minute, then stir occasionally for about 3 minutes more or until the corn begins to glisten and turn translucent.  Add in half of the cilantro and scallion, toss, then spoon the corn mixture onto plate. Sprinkle the remaining scallion and cilantro over the corn, top with a dollop of jalapeno aioli and then crumbled queso fresco. Dust the dish with a pinch of espelette pepper, and garnish with lime wedges.

Jalapeño Aioli

Yields 1 quart

2 whole heads of garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 jalapeño peppers
Juice of 2 lemons
1 quart mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Over two sheets of aluminum foil, drizzle each of the two garlic heads with a tablespoon of oil.  Wrapped each individually into tightly-secured pouches and place on a sheet tray with the jalapeños. Drizzle the peppers with the remaining oil and roast for 35 minutes or until they start to wilt and brown, and the garlic is soft.  Let cool, about 30 minutes. Peel and seed the peppers, and remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins. Add to a food processor with the lemon juice, mayonnaise and purée until smooth. Season with kosher salt to taste.

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