I've just returned from spending three incredible weeks cooking for some of the most influential people in the world on a ranch nestled in the mountains of western Colorado. The vistas were grand.
the sunsets dazzling.
and the night sky mesmerizing.
Breathtaking views aside, the remoteness of the location made sourcing ingredients a challenge. With the nearest rural supermarket 2 hours away, most ingredients were Fedexed in from New York. As you might imagine the long journey isn't too kind on delicate produce and we often opened up a box to find a pool of heirloom tomato puree instead of whole tomatoes, or a few pounds of basil turned to pesto under the weight of a 10 pound bag of bean sprouts.
Luckily, corn was one ingredient that's available locally and it was crisp, tender and sweet.
This Chili Lime salad is something I came up with to pair with a Tex-Mex themed lunch which included smoked chicken tacos, grilled portobello quesadillas and braised pork tamales. Crispy, crunchy, spicy, tangy and sweet, it makes for a great side salad and the confetti of colors, textures and flavors makes it work as a salsa as well.
While most grilled corn recipes have you char the corn in the husks, I find this to be terribly inefficient as you have to wait for the moist husk to completely dry out and char before the corn itself starts to char. The other problem is that the amount of time the corn takes to char in the husks causes the kernels to dry out and get gummy. By husking the corn before grilling, you can quickly get a nice char on the kernels while maintaining the crisp sweetness of fresh summer corn.
- Shuck the corn and remove as much of the silk as you can by rubbing the ears with a paper towel.
- Put the corn on a hot grill, or in a hot broiler (with the rack at the top position) and let the corn char slightly, rotating 4 times to get even charring. Be careful when doing this as the corn tends to pop, shooting bits of hot corn in unpredictable directions at high speed.
- When the corn is done, set it aside and chop the other vegetables.
- When the corn is cool enough to handle, put the stem end into a bowl, hold the tip with your fingers. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob and into the bowl.
- Add the chopped peppers, scallions and cilantro to the bowl.
- To make the dressing, zest the lime into a small bowl and then juice it. You want about 1/4 cup of lime juice, so if your limes are dry you may need to use more than one lime.
- Add the chili powder, salt and black pepper and whisk the dressing together. Pour the mixture over the salad and toss to coat.