The First Crunch

A cool breeze brushes by and swoops the burnt hues of an orange rainbow over the skeletons of string bean, cucumber and tomato plants. Shriveled summer shrubs are blanketed in the luscious warmth of autumn colors. Long Islanders retreat into their flannels and fleece, tucking away flip-flops like dried peaches or pickled beans and making way for new flavors like garlic and collard greens. Though the suntans acquired after long days spent baking on the beach over cool, juicy watermelon are starting to fade, the leaves of trees are just beginning to bronze. Robert Moses becomes lonely while scarecrows welcome visitors into plump patches of pumpkins just waiting to be picked. We thank the cool days now, free of hot summer haze, spent in whirling with family in golden mazes of maize. Whether it’s the crisp bite of a handpicked apple, the sweet smell of pumpkin pie or the crunch of a leaf that helps you welcome fall, we can all agree that its heartwarming flavors have truly been missed.

And remember, as Brian Halweil puts it, “Some things never go out of season, like Long Island wines.” A stroll through the vineyards on a sunny October day, munching on cheese smothered in homemade quince paste, makes for a beautiful autumn afternoon. Or perhaps sipping on Blue Point Pumpkin Ale while baking apples on an evening bonfire under naked trees rustled by the flurry of bats signals your seasonal spirits. Either way there’s an autumn beverage or bite for every palate.

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ELOTE (MEXICAN STREET CORN)
Recipe by Brian Arellano

Serves 4

4 ears of corn
2 tablespoons melted butter

FOR ELOTE CREAM:
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup cotija cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 limes

FOR ELOTE TOPPING:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
4 lime wedges
Soak corn (with husks on) in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling. This will allow corn to steam and soften once placed on grill.
Combine mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, cumin, paprika and the juice of 2 limes. Stir until smooth and refrigerate until corn is ready for topping.
Remove corn from water, squeezing excess water out before placing on grill.
Place corn on a hot charcoal grill for 20–25 minutes, rotating corn 3–4 times so that husks brown evenly.
Remove corn from grill, allowing it to cool. Once the corn has cooled, pull back the husks, keeping them intact, as they will act as a handle for the corn.
Baste husked corn with melted butter and place back on grill. Rotate corn until it is lightly browned.
(Note: if using a gas grill, cook corn on high heat while in husks and then turn to low heat once corn is exposed from husk, to brown)
Spread the elote cream on the entire ear of corn and then dust with the elote topping. (Tip: the corn is best served hot, right off the grill. If possible, set up a serving station near the grill, topping the corn as it comes off the grill.)
Garnish with chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime. ¡Buen provecho!

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