Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thank you Mexico.

It shouldn't have taken me this long to post this (I actually think that I'd assumed I'd posted it until a friend recently asked for the recipe). This is one of those life-changing recipes; one that enlightened me, opened my eyes to the possibilities with food, and increased my desire to be imaginative in the kitchen. It sounded like an unusual combination of ingredients to a young, Southern gal such as myself and piqued my interest immediately. It's simple, it's scrumptious, and like many good things, a little bit messy. "Oaxaca Corn" is what we've come to call it and since discovering it, I haven't eaten corn on the cob any other way. Not once.Oaxaca Mexico is known as the "Land of 7 moles". Yes. Book my plane ticket now. You know I'm a mole-lovin' fool. But they might even be more famous for this corn. Grilled over a fire, brushed with a creamy sour cream mixture, dusted with chili powder and cheese, and served with fresh lime. Mmm- sweet, salty, spicy, and tart. Could it get any better? This is a summertime treat that has become a tradition 'round these parts. With corn, fresh from the Main Street Farmer's Market, and a hankering for some homemade limeade with fresh mint, Oaxaca corn was definitely in order.Now, as I'm sure you can see from the pictures, I don't grill the corn. I know, it's not authentic, but I really feel like it gets a bit dry on the grill, and I just prefer it boiled; it's perfectly tender, sweet, and juicy. Do what you please. When I'm making this for dinner, I usually go ahead and make the corn first, as it is fine to sit on a platter at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Then I'll throw together something real quick and dinner is served. Last night, we had it with some pan-seared shrimp with chimichurri sauce, and a fresh salad with creamy cucumber dill dressing. Add to that the homemade "mojito" and you've pretty much got heaven on earth. The girl agreed.
I guess I shouldn't fail to mention a "thanks" to Argentina as well...It is to them that we owe our appreciation for chimichurri. Argentina, you did it. Now, like so many things, you can find lots of variations in recipes for chimichurri; most of them call for a few basic things such as parley, bay leaf, oil, red wine vinegar, cumin, and garlic. Some add cilantro, some add oregano...I've even seen a few that included tomatoes. I left out the parsley because Michael's not wild about it. We just went with all cilantro. We luuuuv cilantro. You can make the chimichurri early in the day and let it start getting all yummified. Then, it's ready at dinner; all you have to do is make the corn, sear the shrimp, and throw a simple green salad on the plate. (And make sure to add Sungold tomatoes to the salad- they are the all time best). Perfect summer food, I'm tellin' ya.
Oaxaca Corn
(I don't know how authentic this recipe is. I'm guessing that they might use some cheese other than parmesan...I've tried to find an authentic recipe but haven't had much luck. Until then, this is good enough).
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. mayo (I always use Duke's)
  • 2 heaping tbsp. finely grated parmesan cheese (I use what I call the "ghetto" kind in the green can- you know what I mean. This is one application in which it works really well).
  • 1 heaping tbsp. good chili powder
  • 4 ears of fresh corn
Start a large pot of water boiling (should be as tall as your corn cob is). Pull husks back and tie them together with some twine. Remove silks. When water is rapidly boiling, place corn in water, trying to keep husks out of the water, and boil for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix sour cream and mayo together in one bowl, and parmesan and chili powder together in another. When corn is done, remove from water and pat dry on a clean kitchen towel. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then, using a pastry brush, coat one ear of corn with the sour cream mixture (pretty generously) and then coat with chili powder mixture (again, pretty generously). Place on a platter and repeat process for remaining ears of corn. Serve with fresh lime slices.

Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 1/2-2 cups fresh cilantro (loosely packed)
  • a good handful of fresh parsley, if you want
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika (can sub. regular if that's all you have)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, to your liking
  • 1-2 shallots, depending on size
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Puree all together. Cover and let marinate for at least 2 hours. Can leave at room temp. during this time. Then store leftover sauce in refrigerator or freezer.

You only need a tiny amount if serving as a sauce over seafood, poultry, skirt steak, etc. Also makes a great marinade.

Pan-Seared Shrimp
This is awesome any way you eat it. I like throwing it in gnocchi with pesto and cherry tomatoes, putting it in shrimp tacos...anything. The key is drying the shrimp well so they get good and caramelized on the outside.
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (fresh is best, but if using frozen, soak the thawed shrimp in 1 cup buttermilk for about an hour, then drain, and pat dry. This will help take away any "fishy" taste).
  • scant tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • oil for cooking
Pat raw shrimp dry on paper towels (see note above about soaking in buttermilk first if not using fresh shrimp). Transfer to a clean, dry bowl, and toss with salt, pepper, and sugar to coat. Heat just a bit of oil, maybe 1-2 tbsp, in a skillet until almost smoking hot. Add shrimp to skillet, making sure each one has its own "space" in the pan and is in contact with the surface of the pan. Don't mess with them; just allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes (you may need to turn down the heat just slightly). After about 2-3 minutes, shrimp will be nicely seared and caramelized and will release from the pan easily. If you're having to tug at them, they're not ready to turn. When they release easily, turn them over (working quickly) and allow to cook on the other side for about 2 minutes or so. Serve immediately.
(If serving with chimichurri, you can drizzle a small amount (maybe a tbsp. or so) over each serving, or toss it all together in a bowl before serving. Just be only need a little bit)!


Simply Life said...

oh my gosh, that looks amazing!

Chef Dennis said...

what a great post....I love mole!!!!!
now that corn is calling to me, but my wife would freak out if I served it that way.....thanks for sharing!

Ann Tindell Keener said...

I love Oaxaca! I took a little cooking class down there when I was 18 I think. It was completely amazing! I didn't have any of this corn, but that doesn't stop it from looking super yummy.

Jessica said...

I've never seen corn eaten like this! Love it. Thanks for the great recipe.

Patsy said...

This looks and sounds delicious! I just joined your blog. I hope you will stop by my blogspot!

Site Meter