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Grill a simple and amazing Southwestern side dish

When you are barbecuing, which we are doing all over Tucson this weekend as families get together for Mother's Day, it isn't the main dishes that puzzle us, but the side dishes. Putting a salad on the outside serving buffet can be discouraging as it gets less appetizing with time, much as they do at a potluck as the guests pick at it with serving forks.

Meat and potatoes are easy to figure out, and down here in the Southwest we have the great Mexican influence on our cuisine to draw from. Making grilled corn in the Mexican style provides a side dish that makes a family party memorable.

Tucson's health-oriented stores are full of unhusked organic corn that we can buy and take home just now. In the recipe below, you only need to husk the corn ears if necessary and then grill them until they have cooked. That doesn't take long, but the point is that we don't add the cheesy sauce until the corn is already cooked. If you want to shield it a bit from the direct heat of a grill, you could brush the ears with organic corn oil before grilling. Then let it cook, turning it frequently, until it is tender and has those gorgeous grill marks that make grilled corn look so appetizing.

MEXICAN GRILLED CORN

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons organic mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons plain organic yogurt
½ teaspoons chili powder
4 ears of organic corn, husked
4 Tablespoons finely shredded cotija or Parmesan cheese
1 lime, quartered

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt and chili powder in a small bowl.

Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until tender, 8 to 12 minutes total (it will get some grill marks). Spread each ear with 1 Tablespoon of the sauce and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon cotija (or Parmesan). Turn the ears of corn to coat each one evenly. Serve with lime wedges.

In order to coat the corn quickly, prepare the sauce in a wide, shallow bowl so that you can roll the hot corn ears in it rather than try to brush or sprinkle. You might also cut each ear in half if you want to add some portion control to the guests' options.

This procedure is not going to tie you up when you need to be watching grilled meat on the barbie, so as you stand over everything you can minimize time over a hot machine by following some of the grillers' secrets like baking ribs in the oven before they are placed on the grill or whatever.