Growing up in rural Ohio surrounded by corn (I literally grew up in a home sandwiched between two giant corn fields.) I know all too well that there’s nothing better than corn at the end of summer when it’s at its peak. As a kid, corn on the cob was our most common way of consuming sweet corn. My brothers and I were in charge of shucking. It wasn't a chore I liked (darn those pesky silks!) but the end result was well worth the effort. My parents would prepare the corn simply-- blanched in boiling water, slathered in melted butter and sprinkled with salt.
It wasn’t until I moved to New York where I had my first bite of elote (AKA Mexican street corn.) Frankly, I wasn’t aware there were more ways to eat corn on the cob than the one I’d grown up with. I thought that was perfect as is but it turns out when it’s slathered with Mexican crema (or mayonnaise), sprinkled with crumbled cotija cheese and chopped cilantro, dusted with chipotle chile powder and finished with a squeeze of lime it becomes a dish of pure perfection.
When I came across the first corn of the summer at the market, all I could think about was elote. But, corn on the cob isn’t really a dish fit for dinner even if you grew up in a cornfield like myself. So I took all the ingredients you’d use to make the creamy cheesy corn dish and transformed them into a quesadilla fit for dinner.
Before building the quesadillas, the corn is sauteed to bring out it’s sweetness. Since Cotija isn’t a great melting cheese, I added some shredded Monterey jack cheese to up the goo factor. To serve the quesadillas, the Mexican crema (you can also use sour cream) is seasoned with cumin, salt and zest of a lime. And, to not waste the zested lime, I like to cut it into wedges to serve with some Mexican beer. —Grant Melton
1 1/2 cups
canola oil, divided
Serrano pepper or small jalapeno, finely chopped
Heat a large nonstick pan over high heat. Once hot, add a tablespoon of oil. Add the corn and Serrano pepper. Saute until corn begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with ancho chile powder and salt. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Wipe skillet clean, so it can be used to cook the quesadillas.
Once the corn is cool, add both cheeses and cilantro. Toss to combine.
To build a quesadilla, place ½ cup of the mixture onto one side of the tortilla and spread it out slightly. Fold the other half of the tortilla over top of the mixture and repeat with remaining tortillas.
Place the skillet back on the stove and heat over a medium heat. Add one tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add half of the quesadillas. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes, and then flip, cooking five minutes more. Remove the quesadillas from the pan, add the last tablespoon of oil and repeat with remaining quesadillas.
Cut each quesadilla in half or quarters and serve with Lime-Cumin Crema.
To make the Lime-Cumin Crema, place all of the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.