When Rick Martinez, former editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit and contributor to the New York Times went to Mexico in 2019, he planned to research a new cookbook. But by the time the pandemic hit, Martinez had fallen in love with the country — it’s now his home. And its culinary splendor takes center stage in his just-published cookbook, “Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico” (Clarkson Potter, $35).
Among the book’s 100 recipes from seven different regions is this version of esquites, butter-roasted sweetcorn with chiles.
“Esquites exist in every part of México, but there was one city that seemed to have not only the most esquites stands, but also the widest variety of flavors and toppings,” Martinez says in the book.
Each of those vendors in Bernal, Querétaro state, makes this classic corn dish its best with a custom blend of veggies, chiles, and seasonings.
“Consider my recipe your base, Martinez says, “to which you can add tomatoes or tomatillos for color and flavor, replace the chile de árbol with your favorite chili, add meat, or keep it vegetable.”
Fresh corn roasted in butter with poblano and chili de árbol
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium chile poblano, stemless, seeded and diced
¼ medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
4 chiles de árbol, stems and seeds intact (it won’t be too hot, I promise)
4 cups fresh corn kernels (4 large ears)
3 sprigs of fresh epazote or a combination of fresh parsley, oregano and/or sprigs of mint
1¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
1/3 cup crema, crème frache, or sour cream
1/3 cup queso fresco or Cotija, crumbled
To serve: Mayonnaise, ground chili peppers, lime wedges, finely chopped coriander
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chile poblano, onion, garlic and chiles de árbol, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the corn, epazote, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Serve the esquites warm with a drizzle of crema and a pinch of queso fresco and other desired toppings.
— Courtesy of Rick Martinez, “Mi Cocina: Recipes and Recording from My Kitchen in Mexico (Clarkson Potter, $35)