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Barbecue Mexican Corn swaps a low-fat alternative for butter

Barbecue Mexican Corn relies on low-fat mayonnaise and cheese instead of the traditional butter to cut calories.

Associated Press

Barbecue Mexican Corn relies on low-fat mayonnaise and cheese instead of the traditional butter to cut calories.

One of the best days in summer is when local corn starts to appear in the farmers markets. Heavy, sweet, juicy corn picked not more than a few miles from home.

The way most people eat it — including me, most of my life — is to slather the cobs with a big stick of butter. That's fine, but too much butter-slathered corn and, well, we all know where this is headed.

My solution for corn-on-the-cob fans is my barbecue Mexican corn. I'll concede that fresh corn tastes great on its own. But sometimes I like to spice it up a bit.

This easy-to-make side dish offers big flavor without giving you a big gut. Don't even remove the husks.

This recipe uses cotija cheese, known as the "Parmesan of Mexico." Cotija cheese is a strongly flavored, crumbly cheese that is used like Parmesan is in Italian cooking.

If you can't find cotija in your supermarket, try using Parmigiano-Reggiano or feta. Don't worry about calories from mayonnaise either. Use the low-fat version. It tastes fabulous as a part of the grill "sauce."

This recipe makes a welcome, tasty addition to anything else you do on the grill — spareribs, chicken, steak or burgers, or as an accompaniment to quesadillas, tostadas, fajitas, tacos or burritos. So dig in.

Hit the store for an armful of fresh corn on the cob and get grilling. You'll have a healthy side dish at only 158 calories a serving with 6 grams of fat. Compare that to traditional corn slathered with butter, which can have 265 calories and 17 grams of fat.

Just stay away from the s'mores, apple pie and strawberry shortcake, and you might actually emerge from summer a bit slimmer.

Rocco DiSpirito is author of the "Now Eat This!" and "Now Eat This! Diet" cookbooks.

>>EASY

Barbecue Mexican Corn

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon barbecue spice rub (use your favorite)

4 ears local corn, in their husks

Butter-flavored cooking spray

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) cotija cheese, grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Heat a grill or grill pan to high.

In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and barbecue spice rub. Set aside.

Place the corn, in their husks, on the grill or pan and allow to steam cook for about 5 minutes per side.

Peel back some husk and check for tenderness. When corn is tender, remove from the heat but leave the grill on or the pan over the heat. Cut 1 inch off the top of the cobs. Grasp the husk, along with the silk, and peel the husks off the cob like a banana. Continue peeling back the husks around the rest of the cob. Peeling them back together in this way creates a handle for holding the cob.

Spray the corn with cooking spray and place on the hot grill or pan. Grill until the kernels begin to develop grill marks and become charred, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the cobs occasionally.

Using a pastry brush, brush the mayonnaise mixture onto each cob. Sprinkle the cheese and cilantro over the cobs. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 158 calories, 6g fat (3g saturated), 12mg cholesterol, 23g carbohydrates, 7g protein, 3g fiber, 367mg sodium.

Barbecue Mexican Corn swaps a low-fat alternative for butter 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 5:30am]

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