Sometimes you combine two things and it really doesn’t work at all. Like Grape Nuts and oatmeal. That didn’t work. But sometimes imagination and reality match up beautifully, like in this potato salad. I had volunteered to bring potato salad to a bbq potluck but I wanted something more interesting than your standard American version. Esquites is just the off-the-cob version of the Mexican street corn called elotes, which is corn that gets charred and slathered in a creamy, zesty combination of mayo, crema, cotija, cilantro, and lime. It’s one of those dishes that makes your taste buds go crazy with textures and flavors. Perfect for tossing with some plain potatoes and turning into something delicious and interesting!
You will love this salad. So will anyone you share it with. Make it for your next BBQ! Or make it for your Easter luncheon. We had it for dinner with black beans and slaw. It’s really good warm or room temperature but it can be served cold, too. I never find roasted potatoes to keep amazingly well for the next day, but this holds up alright because of all the yummy extras.
A note about the roasting: I love the extra flavor and texture dimension that roasted potatoes add to this salad, but you could just as easily boil the potatoes until tender and then let cool a bit. They might soak up a bit more of the dressing, but that’s nothing to complain about!
warm esquites potato salad
serves 4-6, can easily be doubled or tripled
2.5 - 3 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 3/4 inch chunks (I use gold or russet potatoes)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, separated
4 ears corn, shucked
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced fine
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp lime
1/3 cup feta or cotija, crumbled
First the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 475. Put the chopped potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Salt the water well! Potatoes absorb a lot of salt while cooking, giving them flavor; otherwise they will be bland. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for just a few minutes until the potatoes are just about fork tender but not quite. Drain. Place a large baking sheet in the oven with 1 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up.
Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil over the potatoes in the large pot. Cover the pot with a lid and shake the potatoes around pretty vigorously to coat the potatoes with the softened starch and the vegetable oil. This will result in very crispy edges when roasted. (Note: if you boil your potatoes too much they may fall apart at this stage so be careful!)
Remove the baking sheet from the oven, tipping and shaking gently to spread the heated oil. Carefully dump the potatoes out onto the pan and spread out. Give them a sprinkle of salt, then stick the pan back in the oven.
Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender, crispy and golden brown, turning over the potatoes midway. Remove and let sit while you make the esquites.
For the esquites: Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, scallions, cilantro, and lime juice.
Carefully slice the kernals from the cob using a sharp knife. Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the corn, sprinkle with a bit of salt, stir a bit, and then let sit and cook and develop a little brown on the underside. Stir after a few minutes and let the other side brown for a few more minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and stir for just a minute.
Scrape the corn into a large bowl. Add the sour cream mayo mixture and stir well to coat.
Add the potatoes and toss well to combine. Salt to taste. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta. Serve warm or at room temp.