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The best way to cook summer sweet corn

Corn on the cob is brushed with mayonnaise

Corn on the cob is brushed with mayonnaise dressing and sprinkled with a chili powder spice blend. Credit: Marge Perry

A word about cooking corn: There is no reason to cook sweet, fresh summer corn any longer than about 3 minutes. At that point, it is sweet and crisp-tender. Keep going, and those kernels get chewier and starchier-tasting.

It is ideal to cook all the corn in a single layer, with water coming about half way up the sides of the cobs. But that isn’t always practical, especially when cooking lots of corn at once. In that case, use enough water to come about halfway up the top layer of corn, and toss the corn about halfway through cooking. Go by the visual cues more than cooking time — you want the corn to have just brightened in color, and when you poke a kernel with your fork, it should feel a little crisp but not tough and resistant.

There’s corn on the cob, and then there’s elote, the Mexican street food that takes a simple ear of corn to a whole new level. The creamy coating keeps the savory, smoky, and mildly spicy blend a surface to hold on to, and the contrast of textures and flavors make it incredibly satisfying.

Mexican Street Corn

¼ cup mayonnaise (canola or regular)

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (for mild heat)

4 ears fresh shucked corn

Lime wedges (optional)

1. Bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a boil in a large pot.

2. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and lime juice in a small bowl. Combine the chili powder, salt and chipotle chili in a second small bowl.

3. Add the corn to the boiling water and cook only until the corn is brightly colored, about 3 minutes.

4. Transfer the corn to a platter and brush the entire surface with the mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese and spice blend. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

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