In partnership with Safeway which makes weeknight dinners easy and delicious.
There’s just something about freshly picked corn at the peak of summertime. At our local Safeway grocery store, the produce section is laden with fresh and seasonal produce that calls out to us as we wander the aisles. One of the most amazing fresh-picked veggies on display at our local Safeway right now is Olathe Sweet corn– which is grown on the western side of Colorado. It’s about as local as it gets! Inspired by the famous street corn dishes in Mexico City, we grabbed some flavorful ingredients from our local Safeway this past weekend and put together a Smoked Elote Corn Dip on the Traeger. It’s perfect as an appetizer, a party snack or as a side for Taco Tuesday. Make some today!
FRESH, SEASONAL PRODUCE IS THE BEST INGREDIENT
Like other fresh produce in season (think peaches, cherries and tomatoes), corn on the cob is just amazing this time of year. At our local Safeway store, corn from Olathe Colorado has been on display for a couple of weeks (although it’s never in store long as it is a hot commodity) and we’ve been enjoying corn in many different ways.
To highlight the amazing flavor of fresh cooked corn, we decided to go with a veggie-forward dish that brings up the iconic flavors of elotes. But this dish makes it easier to share with others– served as a dip!
WHAT ARE ELOTES?
In Spanish, the term “elotes” actually means corn on the cob. But in Mexican culture, the service of elotes is a bit more complicated. The corn on the cob is grilled, then slathered in mayonnaise, sprinkled with cotija cheese and served with lime, cilantro and some spicy seasonings.
In Mexico, elotes are served as street food– using the husk as the handle for this delicious dish. But to be honest, you need a big handful of paper napkins to go with a traditional elote– you are guaranteed to get crema and cheese on your face!
SAME FLAVORS IN A DIP
For this dish, we decided to go with the same distinct flavors of traditional elotes but in an easier form for serving. By combining these ingredients with freshly grilled corn kernels that are sliced off the cob, and then baking it all in the grill to meld the flavors, you end up with a terrific and flavorful dish in no time at all.
We amped up the flavor a bit this time by adding some habanero hot sauce and chopped roasted jalapenos. Both add flavor and heat, so adjust the flavors as necessary to meet your family’s needs and your own pallet. We don’t have a pic to prove it, but our 1-year-old daughter was loving the corn dip that we made and then she got a bite with jalapeno in it. Too hot!!
We have found that sticking to fairly authentic ingredients in this dish makes for the best results. Rather than use traditional American sour cream, Mexican crema brings the appropriate creaminess and tang to the dish. Crema is usually a bit higher in fat content, stands up to heat better like in this application where baked (without curdling) and is usually a little less tart than sour cream.
In some instances, you’ll see parmesan used in place of cotija. But we have also found that cotija– which is salty and tangy and doesn’t melt– makes for really authentic results. Cotija is usually a little saltier than parmesan and has a lower fat content. It is traditionally grated or crumbled and used as a topping/finish for dishes. In some ways, cotija is similar to feta cheese in that it will soften when hot, but will not melt.
SAFEWAY MAKES COOKING EASY
As the parents of 1-year old twins, my wife and I exist thanks to simple, quick and easy solutions. This is especially true when it comes to cooking– easy and fast weeknight meals are key to our lives and we find that cooking on our Traeger grill makes meals easy and delicious– all in the same beat. We’re able to grill and smoke– lacing food with terrific wood-fired flavor– but also get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time.
What makes cooking dinner at home easier and quicker? Our local Safeway store which is just down the street and stocks the best and freshest ingredients. This time of year, their produce department is laden with fresh fruit and vegetables at the height of ripeness. From tomatoes to peaches to corn on the cob, we know we can pop into our neighborhood store and pick up fantastic ingredients for tonight’s dinner.
And, if stopping into the store seems like an unnecessary chore (sometimes with two 1-year olds in tow, that’s the case), Safeway has a fantastic curbside pickup option in Drive Up & Go where their shoppers pick and pack your groceries and you get it dropped off in your trunk. Believe me– it makes our lives easier.
Finally, Safeway’s for U program provides the best prices on groceries thanks to the awesome deals, rewards and perks that are loaded to your virtual card. From birthday treats to cash-back options, Safeway for U makes buying groceries for our family a little easier and more affordable than before.
- Olathe Sweet Corn on the cob (unshucked)
- Mexican crema
- Cotija cheese
- Habanero hot sauce
- Signature Select chili powder
- Signature Select ground cumin
- Signature Select oregano leaves
- O Organics white corn tortilla chips
WHY COOKING ELOTE DIP ON THE TRAEGER WORKS
Corn on the cob is the quintessential summer dish. Whether boiled, steamed, grilled or eaten raw, it’s flavorful, sweet and delicious. It truly tastes like summer in a bite. For this recipe, we picked up a bunch of ears of Olathe sweet corn, which is harvested here in Colorado, at our local Safeway store. Because we know the corn is from Western Colorado, we know it’s not more than a day or two off the stalk and it is about as fresh as it can be.
For this recipe, we chose to both smoke and grill the corn on the cob on the Traeger to add complexities to the flavor. By first smoking the corn at a lower temperature, you begin cooking the corn that has been soaked in water, and the flavor from the grill’s smoke begins to penetrate the corn. We find that by keeping the corn in the husk for the first step in this recipe, you are able to steam the corn a bit and ensure that the corn stays bright and colorful.
In the second step of this cook, we grill the corn at a higher heat which cooks the kernels and begins adding some golden brown color to the ears. There is less smoke flavor in this phase of the cook, but the early flavor bath has definitely imbued the corn.
Finally, we bake the dip at the end of this recipe to get it hot and bubbly. If you want to cook it longer, a dip like this can stand up to the heat. It’s also delicious served cold or room temperature. So you really can’t go wrong.
- Preheat your Traeger Grill to 225* with the super smoke feature.
- Peel a few outer layers of husk off the corn, leaving the majority intact.
- In a pan or bowl, submerge the corn in room temperature water for about 10 minutes while the grill heats.
- Once the grill is hot, place the corn (in the husks) on the grate and close the lid.
- Place the whole jalapeno on the grate as well.
- Allow the corn and jalapeno to smoke for about 20 minutes, until warm to the touch.
- Carefully remove the corn from the grill and peel it completely using a kitchen towel.
- Turn up the heat on the grill to 350* and return the husked corn to the grill (leave the pepper on the grill).
- While the corn grills, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- In a bowl, crumble the cotija cheese. Set 2 tbsp aside.
- To the cheese, add the crema and stir to combine.
- Crush the garlic with a press and add to the crema.
- Chop the cilantro and add it to the bowl, reserving 1 tbsp.
- Squeeze the juice of the lime into the mixture.
- Stir in the hot sauce, chile powder, cumin and oregano.
- After the corn has grilled for about 15 more minutes (and is starting to char and is brightly-cooked), pull the corn and the pepper from the Traeger.
- Using two metal bowls (one large and one small), set up a station to cut the corn from the cob. Invert the smaller bowl inside the larger bowl. Prop the corn on the small bowl and cut down the cob. The kernels should fall cleanly into the big bowl, and not all over the counter.
- Once you’ve cut all the corn from the cobs, roughly chop the smoked jalapeno.
- Stir in the corn kernels and part of the chopped jalapeno to the crema mixture.
- Season to taste.
- Transfer the mixture to a grill-proof baking dish and sprinkle with reserved cotija.
- Place the dish in the hot Traeger and cook for another 10-15 minutes until bubbling hot.
- Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and serve with corn chips for dipping.
SIMILAR RECIPES TO SMOKED ELOTE DIP ON THE TRAEGER
- Seared Scallops with Corn and Chorizo
- Taco stuffed poblano peppers
- Seafood dips
- Jalapeno popper dip
- There is also an amazing recipe for a corn and poblano salsa in my cookbook, which you can pick up here
Products used in this cook:
For this recipe, we picked up everything we needed at our local Safeway grocery store. One-stop shopping for the freshest produce. At this time of year, Olathe Sweet Corn is fresh off the field and every bite is a sweet taste of summer.
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Smoked Elote Corn Dip on the Traeger
- Traeger grill
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Grill-proof baking dish
- 4 ears Olathe Sweet Corn on the cob unshucked
- 1 cup Mexican crema
- 1 cup Cotija cheese
- 1 whole jalapeno
- ½ cup cilantro
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 lime
- 2 tsp Habanero hot sauce
- 1 tsp Chile powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Preheat your Traeger to 225*/Super Smoke
- Remove the outer layers of husk off the corn, leaving the most in place
- Soak the corn in room temperature water for about 10 minutes while the grill heats up
- When the grill is hot, place the corn (in the husks) on the grate and close the lid along with the whole jalapeno
- Smoke the corn and jalapeno for about 20 minutes
- Remove the corn from the grill and peel it using a kitchen towel
- Increase the heat on the grill to 350* and put the husked corn and jalapeno back on the grill
- Allow the corn and jalapeno to grill for about 20 minutes
- Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients
- Crumble the cotija cheese and set 2 tbsp aside
- Add the crema to the cheese and mix well
- Stir in the crushed garlic and chopped cilantro
- Squeeze the juice of the lime into the mixture, then stir in the hot sauce, chile powder, cumin and oregano
- When the corn is starting to char and is brightly-cooked, pull the corn and the pepper from the Traeger
- Cut all the corn from the cobs (see note for a tip) and roughly chop the smoked jalapeno
- Stir in the corn and part of the chopped jalapeno to the crema mixture
- Season to taste
- Transfer the corn dip to a grill-proof baking dish and sprinkle with reserved cotija
- Place the dish in the hot grill and cook for another 10-15 minutes until bubbling hot
- Sprinkle the dip with reserved cilantro and serve with corn chips for scooping