The Sweetest Part of Summer

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | aug. 2019

Every year at this time, I can seriously consider becoming a vegetarian. I can't give up brats and burgers during tailgate season, and I won't pass on the Christmas roast or even the Easter ham, but as soon as the sweet corn starts filling the kiosks around town, I can think about it.

I was given the challenge a few years ago when good friends of ours visited from Minneapolis. Both are vegetarians and we were having them over for dinner. It's easy to fire up the grill and throw a few Wisconsin favorites like chin drippin' burgers and savory brats for those who partake, but what to do when meat won't do?

Lucky for me it was sweet corn season and the menu started taking shape. The beauty of sweet corn season is that it's piggybacked with tomato season and pairing the two is a thing of beauty only Mother Nature can offer. I was lucky, for my own selfish reasons, that they are not vegans, so butter was involved, as was fresh mozzarella — so my protein sacrifice was nothing to note and not missed at all.

I started with a simple salad layering sliced tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella topped with a chiffonade of fresh basil drizzled with the best balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil I could afford. A light pasta salad with fresh vegetables and bright summer herbs was "the filler" and that let me showcase some of the best sweet corn in the world from right here in the area.

I offered butter, salt and pepper as one option, but as soon as I showed them how to make Mexican Street Corn, it was a group epiphany and a whole new culinary world opened up. The char from the grill paired with the creamy sauce, fresh herbs, a bit of heat and the finish of grated Parmesan made this a must-have every summer from then on. Try this recipe and elevate our corn roast to a new level.

Mexican Street Corn

Soak one dozen ears of corn (leave husks on) overnight covering the corn with a mixture of 1 gallon of water mixed with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt. If you're preparing more corn, use more brine but stick to the ratio. Fire up the grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees if using a gas grill). As the grill heats up, husk the corn making sure to remove all silky threads. Grill the corn directly on the clean grates for about three minutes then keep turning until all sides are lightly charred.

For the sauce:

In a mixing bowl combine:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup melted butter at room temperature

juice of one fresh squeezed lime

1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Whisk ingredients together. Spread evenly on hot grilled corn and top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a little paprika if you like. Enjoy!

--Banner image 'Corn' by Richard Ha is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Find more of his work at Flickr.com and a copy of this license at creativecommons.org.

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