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Handline Esquites

In Northern California, corn is an unmistakable sign of summer. I always look forward to finding the corn in husks piled high in my local market and making a place for it on my grill. Charred corn slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt is one of summer’s simple pleasures. Life is good.

On the street vendor’s carts in Mexico, you’ll find two classic corn preparations, elote and esquites. Elote is typically served on the cob whereas esquites are cut off and fried in butter. No matter how many tacos I’ve consumed wandering the streets of Mexico City there is always room for corn.



8 ears of corn
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Crema (or sour cream)
¼ cup Mayonnaise
1 lime
2-4 tablespoons of Cotija or other crumbled, dry, salty cheese (ie: Feta, Ricotta Salata)
¼ tsp plus a pinch of chipotle powder
A pinch of salt
A few sprigs of cilantro


The initital cooking of the corn can be done either on the grill or in the oven at 375F. Shuck the corn from the husk and use 1 tablespoon of butter to rub each one. If grilling the corn, place the corn on the grill and rotate as each side that is contacting the grill achieves a light char. This will take approximately 10 minutes. If roasting, place corn in a roasting pan and place in oven for 15 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

While the corn is cooling, mix the crema, mayonnaise, zest of 1 lime and half a lime of juice, and ¼ teaspoon of chipotle powder. Set aside.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob. Heat a pan over medium heat. Place the other 3 tablespoons of butter into the pan. Add the minced garlic to the butter and let cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the corn kernels to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes. To the corn in the pan, add the juice of the other half of lime and add salt to taste.


Spread the crema mixture on a serving plate and spoon the corn on top of the crema. Sprinkle the cotija on top of corn. Use the pinch of chipotle powder to season the top of the cheese and corn. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro.



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