Nacho-Mama’s Charred Corn Nachos (For Dad)

Paula: If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s this simple, undeniable truth: Nachos make people happy. Really happy! That’s why this year, I’m forgoing the more predictable Father’s Day gifts of fishing lures, duck call novelties, expensive Pinot or whimsical socks and giving my dad the greatest gift of all: Nachos.

Scott: That made me cry a little. You are the daughter the world needs now.

Paula: This recipe’s fresh and hearty combination of grilled spiced sweet corn (perked up with fresh lime juice and cilantro) black beans, and the sharp flavor of aged Cotija cheese is more satisfying than the standard chips-and-liquid cheese variety. By the time you’ve prepped the vegetables, you’re ready to place the baking sheet directly on the grate, and close the grill until the cheese melts, no oven required! Then, it’s time to pull a lawn chair next to dad, hand him a cold beverage in a jokester koozie, and pass your favorite barbecue sauce or salsa.

Scott: Hank Thoreau famously said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation, but I am convinced that he was never surprised by his family with a plate of sweet corn nachos, a cold beer, and a handwritten card.

Paula: (dabs eyes, clears throat, nods in agreement)

Charred Corn Nachos

Serves 4

  • 4 ears of corn, shucked (see note)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon Wicked Winona or The Texican seasoning
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (any color)
  • 1/4th cup lightly chopped cilantro (leaves and thin stems)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more as desired
  • Kosher salt
  • One 11-ounce bag regular or blue corn tortilla chips
  • One 15½-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated Cotija cheese
  • Mexican crema or sour cream, for drizzling
  • Sliced fresh or pickled peppers (jalapeno and/or banana), for garnish
  • Tupelo 2-Step BBQ Sauce or salsa, for serving

Prepare a charcoal fire for one-zone cooking and build a medium fire. Clean the grill grates and allow a grill basket to heat for 10 minutes before cooking.

Place the corn on a plate or in a baking dish, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, and season with Wicked Winona or The Texican (use your hands evenly distribute spices). Grill the corn and scallions over direct heat until charred on all sides, 2-3 minutes for the scallions, 4-5 minutes for corn, and then transfer them to a plate to cool briefly. Place the tomatoes in the hot grill basket and cook, shaking the basket every now and then for even charring, until they begin to blister, about 3-4 minutes.

Thinly slice the scallions and trim the corn kernels from the cob. Add them to a bowl with the cilantro, lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt. Stir with a spatula to combine.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the tortilla chips in an even-ish layer. Top the chips with the corn mixture, black beans, cheeses, and tomatoes. Place the baking sheet on the grill, close the grill, and cook until the cheese melts, about 4 minutes. Drizzle the nachos with crema, if desired, and top with slices of fresh or pickled peppers. Serve with Tupelo 2-Step BBQ Sauce or salsa.

Note: The OXO Corn Stripper is one of my kitchen essentials--it makes quick work of trimming kernels from the cob.


Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.

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