How to feel rich for a quid: Mexican corn on the cob

Oh, corn on the cob; is it the cheapest, most delicious thing ever? On a recent trip to the States I was surprised, since it was September, not to see any either on menus or for sale by the road and, when I got back and saw it was 4 for a £1 at my local greengrocer’s, I suddenly wondered why I didn’t eat it more often.

As a child, there was probably no ‘tea’ that would make me happier than a pile of halved cobs, slathered in butter. And not only are they easy and cheap, but also, for a freelancer at home, they make a fast and simple lunch, with nary a scrap of effort. Usually, I eat them with just melted butter and, erm, a dash of HP sauce but this week, in my new-found enthusiasm, I decided to try something else, Mexican corn on the cob, a recipe I initially found in the Primrose Bakery book.

The basics, both in their recipe, and in lots of others, are: mix melted butter flavoured with cayenne, or something spicy, with mayonnaise, bake the cobs (rather than boil them) then serve drizzled in lots of the spicy butter and sprinkled with grated cheese (their recipe, I have to say, which serves 12 cobs with 30g of butter and 70g of cheese, needs a few tweaks, unless it is designed for very, very skinny Primrose Hill types…). Some add a squeeze of lime just before serving too, but I’ve not tested that.

I have tried several versions and I think steaming is just as good as baking (and faster), and that, though cayenne and Parmesan/cheddar are good, these are even better with Spanish smoked paprika and Manchego. So the amounts and ingredients below reflect my tastes in both spice and amounts of butter. Once you have the basics, up the spice, miss out the mayonnaise, change the cheese, boil or bake, whatever’s easiest and suits you and revel in an autumn treat that, unless you are a real pig, is not going to cost you more than 50p.

For two cobs
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
butter, a good lump (about 15-25g if you want to be specific)
mayonnaise, 1 tbsp
sea salt and black pepper

Shopping list
sweetcorn cobs, 2
Spanish smoked paprika, a pinch
Manchego, about 40g (Parmesan and Cheddar are good too)

How to
1. First, trim the corn by removing all the leaves and as much of the hair and fronds as you can.

2. If you are baking the cobs, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 4 and wrap the cobs in foil. As soon as the oven is up to temperature, put the wrapped cobs in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until tender. If you are boiling them, bring a pan of water to the boil (no salt, because it toughens the kernels) and, once it boils, immerse the cobs in the water, lower the heat so the water just simmers and cook until the kernels are tender. To test if they are ready, I tend to break a kernel off and eat it rather than rely on a fork.

3. Meanwhile, whilst the cobs are cooking, melt the butter and, once melted, mix it with the paprika and mayonnaise (trust me, mayo-doubters, trust me) and grate the cheese.

4. As soon as the cobs are done, and either drained or removed from the oven/foil, douse them with spicy butter, sprinkle them with cheese, grind over a little black pepper and make a mess…

Mexican corn on the cob


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