My boyfriend, Jesse and I go to Lake Worth a couple times per month to nosh on the best authentic Mexican food at Tacos Al Carbon. We always start our “dinner in Mexico” with elotes, better known in America as Mexican Street Corn. The husked corn is roasted in a smoker– outside, under a tent, in the blistering heat. A line of sweaty patrons forms outside the tent, waiting to be presented their elotes before choosing their toppings: butter, mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice, lemon sea salt and cotija cheese. We gluttonously elect all the toppings with extra hot sauce. It’s the most glorious grub you can eat off of a stick. And if you’re too lazy for eating it off the cob, this antijito (transl: “little craving” or snack) can be shaved off the cob and served as a vasito de elotes (transl: little corn cup).
I wanted to find a way to make this street corn healthier at home. However, this seemed to be an impossible venture. Corn is awesome, but it offers little nutrition in relation to its carbohydrates. A low carb, butter and mayo smothered corn-on-the-cob did not appear to be a possibility. Until a moment of genius finally sprang upon me, and I thought “Mexican Street Fries!”
You’re probably scratching your head thinking “How can fries be healthier than corn?” I have been making butternut squash fries as a low carb alternative for awhile. I even prefer them over actual potato fries. In addition to the squash being lower in carbohydrates, it’s loaded with Vitamin A and Fiber. The squash fries taste similar to sweet potato fries, and you can spice these fries up a variety of ways, even Mexican style. I took my inspiration to the kitchen, and started experimenting to make my own original antijito.
I sliced my squash into fries, then tossed them lightly in a bit of olive oil to coat, using a lemon-pepper sea salt blend and chile powder to season the fries. After I popped them into the oven, I started composing the crema (transl: cream sauce).
I knew I wanted mayonnaise to be a major component in the crema, to incorporate the authentic flavor of the elotes. I decided the butter could be eliminated, as it’s not as prominent of a flavor in the elotes, and those calories could be spared. I combined mayonnaise and lime juice in my NutriBullet, and gave it a taste test. It was very strong in mayo flavor. I thought to add some Greek yogurt to cut the mayo flavor and add some volume. As I was digging for Greek yogurt, I also grabbed some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce stored in my fridge. I added both ingredients and let it blend in the Bullet for about a minute.
After taste testing the crema, I realized that I created the “creme de la crema!” It needed a special name, so I have christened it the “Cinco de Mayo Crema,” since it has five ingredients. This crema has become a new staple in my refrigerator, and I use it to top off my SoFlo Sunshine Salad with Mango and Mahi.
My fries were crujiente (transl: crispy) and my crema was muy sabrosa (transl: very tasty). To construct my Mexican Street Fries, I placed them in a bowl, sprinkled with some chopped cilantro, and drizzled la crema on top. For the finishing touch I topped it with cotija cheese. Cotija is very similar parmesan, it is also a hard cow’s cheese where a little bit goes a long way in flavor. It gets its name from the town of Cotija, Michoacan, the same state that created the delicious ice cream I posted about.
I gave the finished product to Jesse to try first, and asked him, “Should I add anything? Take anything out? Change the recipe?” His reply, “You need to make more, babe!” as he indulged. We went through the bowl of them in like 5 seconds. They were muy bueno, and a great appetizer for the oven-baked Fajita Chicken Wings that I made to accompany them (I’ll save the chicken wing recipe for a future post). If you make the fries, follow Jesse’s advice and make more!
Mexican Street Fries with Cinco de Mayo Crema
A lower carb version of fries, prepared with toppings to emulate Mexican Street Corn.
Butternut squash is used in this recipe as a low carb option, but you can swap out for regular or sweet potatoes. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are in ethnic food aisle in grocery store.
- For the fries:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and halved with seeds removed
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- Lemon-pepper sea salt seasoning, to taste
- Chile powder, to taste For the crema:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1 tsp adobo sauce Other:
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1-2 tbsp Cotija cheese
- Slice butternut squash into fries and place into large bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil on top of fries and toss to coat.
- Season fries with lemon-pepper sea salt and chile powder to taste.
- Arrange fries in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
- Bake fries at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through baking time.
- While fries are baking, combine mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce in food processor. Blend thoroughly.
- Remove fries from oven and place in bowl, add chopped cilantro and toss gently.
- Top with Cotija cheese and drizzle with about 1-2 tbsp of crema. Save leftover crema for later use.