Saturday, June 25, 2016

Maque Choux

     Maque Choux
     Maque Choux originally was a traditional Native American stew.  French Cajuns lived close with Native Americans a few hundred years ago and many culinary heritages were exchanged.  The French Cajun words Maque Choux are a phonetic translation of the Native American word that describes this stew.
     Maque Choux is made with chile peppers, tomato and corn.  Maque Choux appealed to Cajuns, because more often than not, the selection of chile peppers was on the spicy side.
     Cajuns adopted Maque Choux and there are now many recipe variations.  Some chefs add a little bit of Tasso Ham, or smoked meat for flavor.  When fatty meat is added, the rendered fat is used to sauté the vegetables.  Other chefs add no meat at all and they sauté the vegetables with butter or oil.  For those who like a Maque Choux that has a savory flavor, starting with a thick slice of hickory smoked hog jowl will yield plenty of rich rendered fat.
     The finished Maque Choux should not really look like steamed corn that is flavored with a few diced peppers and tomato.  That would be too pretty!  Maque Choux should look like the vegetables were stewed for a long time.  

     Maque Choux:
     This recipe yields
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add a thick slice of smoked hog jowl that weighs 2 to 3 ounces.
     Gently sauté till the hog jowl is lightly browned on both sides and some fat is rendered.
     Step 2:  *There should be about 2 1/2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pot.  If there is not enough, then add enough unsalted butter to make up the difference.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced celery.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced onion.
     Added 1/3 cup of red bell pepper.
     Add 1/3 cup of green bell pepper.
     Add 1 finely chopped Green Serrano Chile Pepper.
     Add 2 thin sliced green onions.
     Sauté till the vegetables are cooked al dente.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of white corn kernels.
     Sauté till the corn and vegetables are tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/4 cups of imported Italian diced plum tomatoes and their own juices.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of Ground Cayenne Pepper.  (to taste)
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Use a fork to gently mash some of the corn, tomatoes and vegetables in the pan as it cooks.
     Step 6:  Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Gently simmer till the almost all of the liquid evaporates.
     Step 7:  Repeat step 6!
     *There should be no excess liquid in the pan after simmering.  The tomatoes should be able to cling to the corn.
     Step 8:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of chilled unsalted butter while stirring.
     Place the Maque Choux into a shallow casserole dish.
     Place the slice of smoked hog jowl on top, so it can be seen.
     Place the casserole dish on a serving platter.

     Some recipes say to add sugar.  If you use extra ripe tomatoes or Italian canned plum tomatoes and fresh white corn, then the flavor will taste naturally sweet and spicy!

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