Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sweet Tamale Char Corn Cakes

Sorry for my unusual silence here, it was a hectic week and this weekend, I doubled up on chores so Alexis could relax and enjoy her Mother's Day weekend.

Cooking this weekend was a bit of a learning experience. I ended up cooking the same dish 3 times in 24 hours trying to copy Chop House's Sweet Tamale Corn Cake appetizer.
Photo credit: Chop House Restaurant website (photographer unknown)

I had it once about a month ago at lunch and just loved it. It is a corn cake topped with pico de gallo and avocado on a chipolte ranch sauce. The sweetness of the corn cake, velvety texture of avocado, crispiness of the pico, and zing of the chipolte ranch were a symphony in my mouth.

Of course I had to put my spin on it and bring the grill into the equation, so I decided to use grilled corn. I love grilled corn because it makes the sugars in the corn even sweeter, kind of like kettle corn.

Usually I grill it in husk. But sometimes I don't have the time to do all the silk removal, rehusking, and presoaking the corn to do that. So this weekend I used the "cheating grilled corn" method I posted about over at Our Krazy Kitchen for my Fire Day Friday post. But here's the cliff notes if you are too lazy to click:)

Boil the corn for 5 minutes. Drain.

Grill (direct heat) over a 350-400f fire for about 5 minutes, rotating as kernels start to char.

Remove and enjoy. For this recipe, you'll stand an ear on end and then slice off the kernels with a knife.

The first attempt on the corn cakes included a total boneheaded error in which the butter for the corn cake was doubled. The result in the oven was that they spread into thin pan cakes. Discarded.

The second attempt correct the error but the texture still didn't hold up in the oven. The taste of the dough was spot on though. Discarded.

By the third attempt, "someone" (I'm not saying who, but the handwriting looks similar to mine) was getting a little frustrated and defaced the menu board.

Sweet Tamale Char Corn Cakes
Inspired by Chop House Restaurant
Corn cake adapted from this recipe

Chipolte Ranch Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 1/2 Tbsp Southwest Seasoning (click for link to mine or use a commercial mix)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipolte pepper

Pico De Gallo
1 ea chicken beak (just kidding)
2 ea roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 ea jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/4-1/2 ea red onion, diced
2 Tbsp lime juice

Corn Cakes
1 1/2 cups corn, grilled
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup masa harina (corn flour)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 ea egg

1 avocado diced

Mix the chipolte ranch sauce up at least an hour before serving, but could be made well in advance.

Mix the pico de gallo 1-2 hours before serving.

Too much longer than that and the veggies lose their crispy texture. But you need at least an hour for the flavors to get to know each other.

For the corn cakes, puree 1 cup of the corn in a food processor. Mix in the butter, sugar, egg, and salt.

Remove to a bowl and spoon in the other 1/2 cup of corn.

Divide and shape into 4 patties kind of like you would a hamburger.

Place on a preheated pizza stone in a 400f oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the bottome starts to turn golden brown. (Next time I'll do that on the Big Green Egg).

Flip and cook another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Squirt or drizzle some of the chipolte ranch sauce on a warmed plate, top with a corn cake, then the pico de gallo and avocado.

Chop House uses way much more sauce, it almost covers the plate. I like to use just a little. Don't worry, the leftover sauce won't go to waste, it would be great on a burger or salads.

This isn't a dead ringer for Chop House's cakes but it's close and just as good!

What restaurant recipe have you "copy-catted" or would like to clone?