Tuesday, February 15, 2011
One blog I like to follow is Nola Cuisine, which celebrates the food and drink of New Orleans, Louisiana. Danno, who writes it, is a chef who has the happy knack of producing dishes that make your mouth water, things like classic shrimp etouffee and the renowned muffuletta, through to the basic essentials of homemade andouille sausage and tasso.
One of his recipes that really spoke to me was maque choux, pronounced mock shoe, an irresistible combination of corn and tasso, anointing the holy cajun trinity of capsicum, celery and onion.
Okay, there was no tasso lounging around the pantry, a piece of pork cured with a tantalizing spice mix, but some csabai was to hand, a wonderfully rich Hungarian sausage, full of paprika and other warming spices, but if all you had was a chorizo or some bacon for that matter, well, that would also make a decent fist of it.
Corn is one of those vegetables we tend to go with either one of two ways; gorging on whole cobs, cooked till just tender, perhaps daubed with melted butter or splashed with lime juice and sprinkled with salt, or, go to the trouble of stripping the kernels, which then very often find their way into soups and chowders.
Essentially, maque choux is simply braised corn, but that's like writing off the Mona Lisa as just a picture, it's more than paint and brushstrokes. Maque choux is a dish of real character, where every ingredient adds more than its sum. If you like your corn a little spicy, this one is for you.
(adapted from Nola Cuisine - serves 6)
4 ears of very fresh corn
25g unsalted butter
1 link of csabai or chorizo, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/2 green capsicum, finely diced
the leaves from 6-8 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 small hot green chillies, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
salt & fresh ground pepper
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Slice the kernels from the cob about half way through, place in a bowl. Take each stripped cob and with the back edge of a heavy bladed knife, scape all the corn milk you can into the bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot or casserole and fry the csabai or chorizo until starting to brown. Add the onion, celery, capsicum, thyme leaves, chillies & garlic and continue to gently fry until all the vegetables are completely softened, about 10 minutes. Add the corn kernels & milk, plus the tomatoes, season to taste with the salt and fresh ground pepper then slowly simmer for about 30 minutes or until the corn is done to your liking. Enough liquid should come from the corn and tomatoes, but if it's a little dry, add a few drops of water. Just before serving, stir through the spring onions.
Note: A wonderful variation could see you adding your favourite bean along with some smoked paprika, instead of the corn and adding a little more liquid. I used some fresh borlotti beans and the result was excellent.