Esquites are simply elotes in a bowl. Mexican street corn.
If you aren’t familiar with esquites or elotes, you should get acquainted. It’s the absolute best way to eat fresh corn. The combination of the smokiness, the cheese, the creaminess from the mayo, the fresh herbs, and the lime juice is perfection.
Esquites are especially good this time of year. Corn is in the peak of its season, so it’s juicy and sweet and very refreshing on a hot summer day.
Making esquites as opposed to elotes just makes it easier to eat without getting it all over your face.
We’ve rated this recipe as EASY since all you need to do is roast the corn over a fire, cut off the kernels and mix it with the rest of the ingredients.
Esquites are best made over a wood fire. The amazing smoky flavor of a live fire just can’t be replicated. Charcoal is the second best choice for cooking it, which is how we cooked this batch. Esquites can be made at home on the stove-top or on a camp stove in a cast iron pan. It just isn’t the same though.
A camping trip is the perfect opportunity to make this the right way.
Spicing Up Your Esquites
The recipe calls for chili powder, but I like my esquites a lot spicier. I use chipotle chile powder, which is just chile powder made out of dried jalapenos.
You can go ahead and substitute chipotle chile powder for the regular chile powder if you want a pretty good kick of heat like I do or do half chipotle and half regular chile powder for a milder heat.
Explore more side dishes for your camping trip.
Cooking Your Corn
To get the little char marks on your corn, you want to have a hot fire. Let your wood burn down to a good bed of coals before cooking.
The challenge with a lot of campground fire pits is that its hard to get the grill grate close enough to the coals to get a a high enough heat to char the corn.
We solved this problem by using a perforated steam-table pan and a dutch-oven lid stand. This trick also works great with charcoal, both for getting the charcoal close to the grate and for cutting down on the amount needed.
The pan gives good airflow to keep the charcoal or wood coals lit and burning hot and the lid stand raised it much closer to the grill grate.
If you need to take the pan in and out of the fire pit for some reason, a pair of channel-lock pliers works great.
Campfire Esquites (Elotes in a Bowl)
Before You Leave Home
- All of the work for this recipe should be done at the campsite. Its very simple though, so it shouldn't cause any difficulties. You'll just need to chop your green onions and cilantro before mixing everything together.
At the Campsite
- Remove husks and silk from corn. Using a stiff-bristled brush, like a dish brush, can help remove the silk. Just don't scrub so hard you damage the kernels.
- Build campfire or charcoal fire. Once it is ash and coals (charcoals are well lit and white all over), place husked corn on the grill grate, directly over the coals, and cook, turning occasionally, until tender and charred all over, about ten minutes.
- Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add salt to taste.
- Let corn cool enough to handle. Cut kernels off the cobs into your mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the top with a little more cheese and cilantro before serving.
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