Crazy Street Corn

Crazy Street Corn (Penny De Los Santos)

For one wonderful summer afternoon, forget your minimalist aesthetic, your hip neutrals and — most definitely — your diet. This party is all about the vivid colors, vibrant flavors and free-spirited fun of a Mexican fiesta.

With a few simple touches, your yard or porch will practically shout olé. Fill some earthenware pots with paper flowers in the brilliant hues of a sunset — hot pinks, tropical reds, rich yellows. String chili-pepper lights through the trees or along railings to turn on as the evening sky darkens. Place maracas on the table, a great accompaniment to the mariachi mix you've put together. And don't forget an ample cooler, filled with refreshing drinks and plenty of ice-chilled beer.

But the focal point of the day is the food. And for some fabuloso recipes, we sought out Pati Jinich, star of the popular PBS cooking show “Pati's Mexican Table" and author of “Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking".

Here are two of her grill party favorites with instructions for finishing either on an outdoor grill or in the kitchen.

Honey-chipotle Ribs
Costillitas con Chipotle y Miel
Serves 4

1 cup ketchup 
2/3 cup honey
3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (from a can), seeded and minced, or to taste, plus 1⁄4 cup adobo sauce
10 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard 
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 cup Maggi sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds baby back ribs or spareribs

In a medium bowl, combine the ketchup, honey, chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, garlic, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, Maggi sauce, oregano and pepper. Mix well.

Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pour some sauce into the bottom of the pan, then add the ribs and pour the remaining sauce on top. Cover tightly with foil and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours; if marinating for more than 30 minutes, refrigerate the ribs.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Roast the ribs, covered, for 1-1⁄2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil, taking care not to get burned by the steam. Spoon the thickened sauce from the bottom of the pan on top of the ribs and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes more or until they are beautifully browned and sticky. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Alternatively, after you remove the foil, you can finish off the ribs on the grill at medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Slice the ribs into 2- to 3-bone pieces and serve.

Crazy Street Corn
Elotes Callejeros
Serves 6

6 ears corn, husked and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, if grilling
Softened unsalted butter
Mayonnaise 
1 cup thoroughly crumbled queso fresco, Cotija, farmer cheese or mild feta 
Kosher or coarse sea salt 
Dried ground chili, such as piquín, or a Mexican mix
3 limes, halved

To grill the corn, prepare a medium fire in an outdoor grill or heat a grill pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the corn with the oil. Add the corn to the grill or pan and cook, turning every 3 minutes, until tender and slightly charred, 9 to 12 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the corn in a big pot of boiling water until tender, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the freshness of the corn. Remove the corn from the heat, or drain it, and pile on a platter, along with corn holders or thick wooden skewers.

Serve with the garnishes so everyone can fix their corn the way they want. The traditional way is to spread on a layer of butter, then a layer of mayonnaise. Next, thoroughly cover the corn with the crumbled cheese, either by rolling the corn on a plate of the cheese or sprinkling it on. Finish with a shower of salt and ground chili, then a squeeze or two of lime juice. 


— By Maxine Nunes, Brand Publishing Writer