From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: Supper From South of the Border
In Mexico, street vendors add kick to grilled corn by slathering it with a creamy, spicy sauce. The corn takes on an irresistibly sweet, smoky, charred flavor, which is heightened by the lime juice and chili powder in the cheesy sauce. We wanted to develop our own rendition of this south-of-the-border street fare.
To cook the corn, we ditched the husks, coated the ears with oil to prevent sticking, and grilled them directly on the grate. Over a single-level fire, the corn emerged nicely smoky but insufficiently charred, so we pushed all the coals to one side to create a modified two-level fire, allowing the ears to cook closer to the coals.
The traditional base for the sauce is crema, a thick, soured Mexican cream. But given its spotty availability in supermarkets, we replaced the crema with a combination of mayonnaise (for richness) and sour cream (for tanginess). Most recipes call for queso fresco or Cotija, but these cheeses can be hard to find. Pecorino Romano made a good substitute. We included the usual seasonings of chopped cilantro, lime juice, minced garlic, and chili powder. To provide more depth, we added some chili powder to the oil used for coating the corn; once heated on the grill, the chili powder bloomed with a full flavor that penetrated the corn kernels.
If you can find queso fresco or Cotija, use either in place of the Pecorino Romano.