It’s no secret that I love Mexican food. After I spent a year abroad in Ecuador, the only thing I wanted when I arrived a haggard mess to SFO was to get to Picante before they closed for the night. I could probably eat Mexican food every day, but not just tacos or quesadillas or enchiladas—there are so many amazing Mexican dishes that I think go under-appreciated most of the time. One of those is esquites.
Esquites, which comes from the native Nahuatl word for “toasted corn,” is traditionally a street food, you can find it served up in steaming little bowls of buttery deliciousness. If you’ve ever had elote (Mexican corn on the cob), think of esquites as basically that in a bowl, full of cheese, spices, and lime juice. They’re creamy, tangy, smoky, and sweet…and darn delicious.
My friends just threw a barbecue and asked for summer veggie dishes. I’ve head esquites on the brain and I also wanted to make stuffed peppers, since those are always awesome on the grill. So I combined them. You could just make the esquites and you will have a bowl full of tastiness that you will want to shovel into your mouth all at once. Stuffed into anaheim peppers it was a fun twist and a tasty way to serve up this awesome corn.
This was a hit at the barbecue and I will be making them again (in fact, I had a little corn left over to make a personal serving for dinner tonight!). Just go make this next time you have a potluck, or just the next time you have dinner. Yes it’s that good.
Esquites-Stuffed Grilled Peppers
Again, you can definitely just make the esquites and you will have one awesome side dish or appetizer!
What you’ll need:
- 4 ears of corn, corn cut off the cob
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 c scallions, all but the very roughest part of the tips sliced
- 1 tbsp lime juice (roughly one lime’s worth)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (I used a combo of regular chili powder and ancho chili powder)
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 jalapeño, seeded & diced
- 1/4 c cotija cheese (or feta) [more for serving]
- 2 tbsp neutral oil like vegetable oil or butter
- Salt & Pepper
- Anaheim peppers for stuffing (I had 9 peppers and had a little extra esquites for stuffing my face)
What to do:
- Roast your corn kernels: I used the same technique as I did in my summer pasta, just using a little bit of grapeseed oil to brown them up in the pan. Heat the oil/butter over medium heat and add your kernels and a pinch of salt, tossing after about 2 minutes. Continue to do this until all your kernels have big patches of caramel brown color.
- While your corn is roasting, mix together your cotija, mayo, and spices (including a little salt and pepper) so you are ready to go when the corn is toasty.
- Stir together your corn, cotija/mayo, lime juice, jalapeños, and herbs. Resist shoveling the whole damn bowl into your mouth (I literally was stunned by how amazingtastic it smelled).
- Taste and adjust seasonings. I threw a little extra ancho powder because I wanted some more smokiness, but it’s up to you!
- Note: If I were stuffing peppers with this again, I would add a little jack or mozzarella cheese to the filling, just to help bind everything together a little better.
- To stuff the peppers, slit them down one side and reach in to remove the seeds and veins. Fill them up with your esquites and wrap them individually prior to grilling/broiling.
- Grill (or broil, if you don’t have a grill) them for about 5 minutes a side, then open one to see if the pepper has softened up. Serve up and enjoy!
The corn is full of flavor and just enough spice. It was awesome on its own, but it was perfect for a barbecue grilled up in the peppers, which brought a little extra crunch and sweetness to the dish. Just go make this corn, seriously.
¡Buen provecho! 🙂