Food52‘s newest cookbook release, Any Night Grilling ($25) by Paula Disbrowe, demystifies the grill and gets the grates ready for more than steak and burgers. Look out, future pit master you, because you will want to grill all the things after reading this book.
The more than 60 recipes provide all the reasons to invite friends over for a grilling party. There are cowgirl strip steaks, beer-can chicken, and Gulf Coast shrimp tacos slathered in hot sauce. But our go-to might just be the grilled corn nachos. Keep reading to find out the recipe, including Disbrowe’s tips on how to perfectly roast corn on the barbecue.
Grilled Corn Nachos
Saying yes to nachos for dinner feels like rule breaking in the best way (jalapeños count as a vegetable, right?). This decision usually translates to a small party, with grilled satsuma margaritas for grown-ups and Mexican Cokes for kids. This recipe’s fresh and hearty combination of grilled sweet corn tossed with fresh lime juice and cilantro, black beans, and the sharp flavor of aged Cotija cheese is more satisfying than the standard chips-and-cheese variety. And by the time you’ve prepped the vegetables, you’re ready to place the baking sheet directly on the grate to cook in a closed grill until the cheese has melted—no oven required! Serve with your favorite red or green salsa.
Note on Grilling Corn: The truth is, ears of sweet corn can be grilled in any way that allows the fire to either steam or directly char the kernels until they become tender and juicy. Ultimately, the most important issues are freshness (from the second that fresh corn is picked, its sugars begin converting to chewier starches, so the sooner you eat it, the better) and the intensity of the heat you’re dealing with. If you have a low fire and glowing embers, you can roast the corn in its husk — no need for soaking or removing silk — directly on the coals, turning the cob as needed for even cooking until the exterior is blackened and the kernels are steamy and tender. Removing the blackened husk creates a flurry of ash that might not be ideal for your dining room, but the distinctive, tamale-like flavor that it imparts is worth the mess. On most nights, and certainly for this book, I’m interested in the fastest and easiest approach, so I simply place the shucked, clean cobs over direct heat and use my tongs to rotate them until the kernels are evenly charred, creating a sweet, nutty flavor.
- 4 ears of corn, shucked
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 cup small cherry tomatoes, optional
- 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more as desired
- kosher salt
- 1 (11-ounce) bag regular or blue corn tortilla chips
- 1 (15 1⁄2-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded Cotija
- Mexican crema or sour cream, for drizzling
- sliced pickled jalapeños, optional
1. Prepare a charcoal grill for one-zone cooking and build a medium fire, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Carefully wipe the preheated grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again. Allow a grill basket to heat for 10 minutes before cooking.
2. Grill the corn and scallions until charred on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes for scallions, 4 to 5 minutes for corn, and then transfer them to a plate to cool slightly. Place the tomatoes in a grill basket and grill (shaking the basket for even charring) until they begin to blister, about 4 minutes.
3. Thinly slice the scallions and trim the corn kernels from the cob (the OXO Corn Stripper that Amanda Hesser gave me years ago makes quick work of this task). Add them to a bowl with the cilantro, lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt. Stir with a spatula to combine.
4. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the tortilla chips in an even layer. Top with the corn mixture, black beans, cherry tomatoes, and cheeses. Place the baking sheet on the grill, close the grill, and cook until the cheese melts, about 4 minutes. Drizzle the nachos with crema and top with pickled peppers.
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(Reprinted with permission from ‘Food52 Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (and More)’ by Paula Disbrowe, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.)
(Photos via James Ransom © 2018)