Street Corn Nachos! Tortilla chips topped a creamy monterey jack cheese sauce, toasted corn, crumbled cotija, chili powder and cilantro.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer
There’s a reason Mexican street corn, a.k.a. “elote”, is so popular these days. Grilled corn on the cob, slathered in a mayo sour cream sauce, sprinkled with cotija and chili powder? Yes, please!
Well, how about all of the brilliant deliciousness of street corn, in the form of street corn nachos?
Ever since I had some elote at a friend’s house the other day, I’ve been dreaming about capturing the flavors as a topping for cheesy nachos. And friends, I think we may have something good here.
The components of nachos are tortilla chips, melted cheese of some sort, and toppings. The problem with a lot of nacho recipes is that if you bake the chips with the toppings, the chips quickly get soggy.
To counteract that, I decided to toast the chips separately, and then just pour over a cheese sauce and top with the toppings right before serving. That way the chips stay crunchy, and don’t droop when you try to pick them up.
The cheese sauce needed to be creamy and mild. Creamy to easily pour, and mild so it wouldn’t interfere with the street corn flavors.
So, I’ve made a cheese sauce with Monterey jack, cream, milk, and some cornstarch to prevent clumping. This gets cooked in a double boiler on the stovetop so the sauce doesn’t burn or separate.
As for the corn? You can of course grill some corn on the cob, and then remove the kernels.
I didn’t want to fire up the grill to make nachos though, so I’m using frozen corn kernels that I sear, while still frozen (a tip from America’s test kitchen), in a cast iron pan on high heat. That way we get some sear. I use chipotle chile powder for the heat and smoky flavor.
This isn’t the sort of thing you can make in advance. That said, if you are having people over for a game day party? This would be perfect. Enjoy!
Mexican Street Corn Nachos Recipe
This recipe uses frozen corn kernels. You can of course use corn from grilled corn on the cob. Usually I don’t have any leftover corn when I grill corn, and if I do grill it, I want to eat it right then and there, on the cob.
Mexican crema is a lot like runny sour cream. I don’t usually have it around, so I usually use diluted sour cream when a recipe like this one calls for crema. But if you have crema, use it!
- 2 Tbsp canola oil (or other high smoke point oil)
- 1 pound frozen corn (about 3 cups), still frozen
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 14 ounce bag low salt tortilla chips
- 1 pound monterey jack cheese, grated (do not buy pre-grated, it won’t melt properly)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (can sub crumbled feta)
- 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (can use regular chili powder or smoked paprika)
- 2 Tbsps of Mexican crema or 2 Tbsp sour cream that have been slightly diluted with water
- 1/2 lime, sliced into wedges
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Sear the corn, then mix with mayo: Heat oil on high heat in a large, cast iron pan. When the oil is almost smoking hot, add half of the frozen corn (not defrosted) to the pan. Spread it out in the pan and let sear.
Stir occasionally, until most of the corn kernels have browned a little on at least one side. You’ll know the corn is ready when some of the kernels start “popping”.
Remove the corn from the pan to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining frozen corn kernels.
Mix the corn with the mayonnaise and set aside.
2 Toast tortilla chips: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the tortilla chips out on a large sheet pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
3 Make cheese sauce: While the tortilla chips are toasting, make the cheese sauce. Set up a double boiler with an inch of water in the lower pan.
If you don’t have a double boiler, place an inch of water in a small saucepan and place a metal bowl over it so that steam from the boiling water below heats the bottom of the bowl. Do not let the bowl touch the water.
Place the grated monterey jack cheese in the top pan or bowl of the double boiler. Mix with the cornstarch. Pour in the cream and milk (can use half and half if you want). Add the minced garlic.
Heat the water in the double boiler to a boil. Let the cheese gently melt, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is smooth.
4 Assemble nachos: Once the tortilla chips are lightly browned, remove them from the oven. Transfer to a large serving platter.
Pour the cheese sauce over the chips. Sprinkle the top with the toasted corn. Sprinkle with cotija cheese crumbles. Sprinkle with chipotle chili powder. Drizzle with the crema or diluted sour cream. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Sprinkle with a little lime juice and serve immediately with lime wedges.
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