There's a nostalgic joy about eating a charcoal-grilled corn on a cob, as they're served at the most pleasant outdoor gatherings: farmers' markets, county fairs, and street parties. Now you can recreate that experience at a home barbecue, courtesy of America's Test Kitchen. Try to use queso fresco and Cotija cheeses instead of the Pecorino for a more authentic kick -- the cheeses are easily found at Mexican grocery stores and major supermarkets around Southern California.
Mexican-Style Charcoal-Grilled Corn
Vegetable oil for cooking grate
1/4 cup regular or light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
1 ounce Pecorino Romano, grated (about 1/2 cup) (see note)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 large ears corn, husks and silk removed
Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange all coals in even layer over half of grill, leaving other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.
While grill is heating, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, black pepper, cayenne (if using), lime juice, and cheese in large bowl; set aside. In second large bowl, combine oil, salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder; add corn and toss until coated evenly.
Grill corn over coals, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, 7 to 12 minutes total. Remove from grill and place in bowl with mayonnaise mixture; toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
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