“You can do anything with local food.” –Corbin Evans
One of the better parts of working in restaurants is the people who cross your path. Very often they move on and you lose track of them but thanks to the Internet, you can find them again.
Corbin Evans is one of those people. Corbin and I worked together in a Philadelphia restaurant years ago. Corbin left to open his own place but closed it due to landlord problems. He moved on, down south, landing in New Orleans. A chef of great talent, his career has experienced highs (recognition from national press) and lows (Hurricane Katrina). After taking a soul -crushing job in institutional cooking to get back on his feet after the hurricane (“Use only these vendors. No local food”), he struck a deal with the owner of the Lyric Theatre in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. Carving out a tiny kitchen from an unused closet (literally) he opened Oxford Canteen, a place where he can cook as he pleases and follow his philosophy of sourcing food locally.
It has worked. Oxford Canteen celebrated its first birthday in March. Corbin is not a person of many words (his own admission) but you can get an idea of the man through his food. The Canteen may be miles away from where you are right now but if you are ever planning to pass through Oxford, (Ole Miss) you should make it a stop. It’s tucked down an alley but I would imagine anyone you ask would know where it is. You can check out the website below.
Having built up Corbin and his food, this is not his recipe. Sorry. But I feel it’s in his spirit, that of taking good fresh, local ingredients, borrowing an idea from somewhere (in this case, elote, Mexican corn on the cob) and making it into something “new” and delicious.
Elote is Mexican street food: grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayo or crema, ancho chile powder, lime juice, and cotija cheese. For this recipe, the corn is first grilled then cut of the cob. The corn is mixed with greens and some seasonal vegetables then tossed in a dressing made up from flavors you would find in elote. A sprinkle of some cotija cheese finishes the salad. It’s open to possibilities of course. There is no correct way to make this salad. Just don’t skimp on the corn. Plan on one ear person, but why not grill extra corn and have it on hand for when you want to make the salad again later in the week.
If you don’t have a grill you can do what I do. Place the corn, one ear at a time, over a gas flame and rotate until the corn is charred. No grill or gas? I haven’t tried this method but I am certain you could roast the corn-on-the-cob in a 400 degree oven until nicely browned.
The dressing makes a small quantity that can be kept in a container in the refrigerator. It may “break” but a few quick shakes will pull it back together.
For two servings
Plan one ear per person but while you’re at it, grill several and keep the extra on hand to use later
2 ears corn on the cob
3 Tablespoons lime juice
8 Tablespoons oil (I used3 T. canola oil and 5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (or other chile powder)
pinch of sugar
¼ cup mayonnaise, sour cream, or Mexican crema (or a combination)
2 or 3 Tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese (freshly grated Parmesan will work, too)
salad greens of your choice
(plus whatever else you’d like to add, such as sliced avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds/ pepitas, etc).
1. Husk the corn and remove the corn silk. Place the corn on a hot grill and cook until evenly charred. Remove the corn from the grill and let cool. To cut the corn off the cob, stand the corn in a medium-sized bowl and cut down the cob, slicing off the kernels. Discard the cobs. Transfer the corn to another bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
To assemble the salad, place two handfuls of mixed greens into a bowl. Add the corn, radishes, and tomatoes (and other ingredients of your choosing) to the bowl. Mix the dressing together if it has separated. Spoon about 2 tablespoons (or so) of the dressing into the bowl and toss to evenly distribute. Add the cheese and mix the cheese into the salad. Divide the salad between two plates and serve.
As Corbin says, “Eat like you mean it.”
Oxford Canteen: http://oxfordcanteen.com/