Maque Choux

22 Aug

This recipe comes from Farm Table member, Christen Miller, a nostalgic recipe from her days in Texas, learning to cook from her Louisiana-born neighbor who infused Cajun-inspired dishes into Christen’s life. Christen’s food talents include: vegan and vegetarian, wild foods, Cajun and tex-mex, historic (Native American, civil war era, colonial era), healthy recipes, and campfire cooking, including dutch oven, cast iron skillet, grill, and foil. We look forward to Christen contributing more recipes to our blog for your enjoyment. 

Christen swears by Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, and you can almost taste the dish below as she describes how to make it. With corn on the menu last week and in the Chef box this week, why not try this recipe out?

Some of my earliest memories are from the garden of my youth. Hot Texas sun, red clay dirt, the drone of cicadas and the smell of warm pine needles will always invoke memories of sweet tomatoes, a cucumber tee-pee, and that particular shade of purple you can only find in an eggplant. We planted our garden in March, and we were still pulling tomatoes in December. What we didn’t get from our own piece of land often came from close by. We lived in an agricultural society. Sweet corn and rice were cash crops in Waller County. Most of the kids in my school were in Future Farmers of America or 4-H, and raised cows, sheep, goats and chickens to show in fairs. It was just how we lived.

But agriculture wasn’t the only food source in our house — my father is an avid fisherman, and the main source of animal protein on our table was fresh caught bass or perch, speckled trout or red snapper. We had eggs from our chickens, and blackberries and muscadine grapes picked from the road sides. And of course…we had barbecue!

I don’t live in Texas any more, I don’t have a garden, and there is rarely time to fish. But the values I learned in childhood of the importance of eating local and close to the earth have stayed with me. I was thrilled when I found out about The Farm Table from a flyer at my child’s school. An opportunity to participate in a community run organization that delivers local produce to your door? Sounded to good to be true! Thank goodness it isn’t– I feel like it’s Christmas every Thursday when I get home and find “The Box” on my doorstep, and the smell of fresh produce takes me back to childhood, and stirs both my creativity in the kitchen and my memories of all my kitchen mentors who’ve been in my life.

The first day my husband and I moved into our house in Galveston, TX, we met our next door neighbors Gussie and Emery Thibodaux. They hailed from Louisiana and were some of the kindest, generous, and most genuine folks I’ve ever known. And Gussie could cook like no one I’d ever met. I hope to share many of her recipes, but one of my favorites is her corn Maque Choux  (pronounced mock shoe) – I’ve read that the origin of the name is not French as it seems, but a variation of an American Indian name. Gussie never measured anything, and so I learned to cook like her with a dash of this and some of that, going by smell and taste to determine if it was right. Maque Choux is one of those regional dishes that has as many variations as there are families that make it. It showcases corn in a unique and wonderful way. I don’t know how true that is, but I like the story. Every time I cook it up I can picture her stirring and stirring the pot and telling me, “You gots to stirl and stirl and stirl it!”

Gussie’s Maque Choux

Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn, at least 1 ear per person
  • Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
  • Oil, 1/2 cup corn oil or more OR about 2 Tbs of coconut oil
  • Water, as directed

Directions:

  • Start with the freshest corn, but you can use frozen if you must. At least one ear per person will do, but more is recommended.
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut the corn off the cob in two thin layers, then flip the knife over and use the back to scrape every bit off the cob. Squeeze the cob to get every bit of milk out. Season with Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning to taste. Don’t skimp on this.
  • Put enough oil in a heavy pot to coat the bottom. (This is the one area in which I don’t do just what Gussie said. She put at least half a cup of corn oil or more. I use about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.) Get the oil nice and hot – medium heat is best.
  • Add the corn all at once. Cook and stir until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, but don’t let it burn. When you have some nice browned bits add enough water to cover the corn, then scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Let the water cook down until the pan is almost dry. Do that again – water to cover, scrape up browned bits, simmer down until almost dry. Your corn should put off a roasted aroma, and smell so good your mouth is watering. This process caramelizes the corn and brings out all the natural sweetness.
  • Add water a third time, but this time not as much and don’t let it cook all away – you want some moisture in there. Taste for seasoning, and you are done.
  • This dish goes with just about anything, and leftovers (if there are any) are fantastic as a condiment on burritos or tacos, stirred into pasta salads or casseroles.

Do you have a food mentor who left their mark on your cooking repertoire? A neighbor, a family member, or a friend? We’d love to hear more. Tell us about them in the comment section below!

6 Responses to “Maque Choux”

  1. H B Jeffrey August 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    CMiller – You bring me right back to MardiGras days & lovely trips to the bijou! We enjoy a similar treat – passed along by a lovely man that must have been just this side of 101 yrs old! Great use of corn! and perfect dish for camping!

  2. f August 23, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I’ve done this in a dutch oven over the campfire – it IS a fantastic camping dish!!

  3. heartfeltassociates August 23, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Sounds great, Christen. I can’t wait to try it. I’ll be at the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning buying corn. I have some of Tony’s seasoning somewhere in our cabinets. Thanks.

  4. heartfeltassociates August 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I just made your Maque Choux and it is wonderful. I’m having it with a bison pattie grilled outdoors and the combination is wonderful. Thanks, Christen. (corn was fresh from the Farmer’s Market yesterday).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Joys of Dirty Rice « The Farm Table RVA - September 24, 2012

    […] Table member and guest blogger Christen Miller, who shared her Maque Choux recipe in her last post, is back to teach us how to make another regional dish, “Dirty […]

  2. Baba Ghanoush « The Farm Table RVA - October 14, 2012

    […] Blogger and Farm Table member, Christen Miller, is back to follow up her Dirty Rice recipe with this healthy, simple, and tasty dish that you can […]

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