Secret ingredient of maque choux cajun summer corn lifts
The star of maque choux, one of Louisiana’s classic Cajun country dishes, is fresh summer corn. Naturally sweet almonds are deliciously balanced with a savory blend of vegetables and crayfish. But it can turn to the heavy side, largely thanks to the addition of cream.
To lighten up the recipe from our “Milk Street Tuesday Nights” book, which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we use an item that most cooks throw away – corn on the cob. Instead of weighing down the dish with dairy, which tends to dull the other flavors, we extract the “milk” from the corn. After cutting into the kernels, we use the back of the knife to scrape the cobs, releasing their starchy liquid to add a rich, creamy body that doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
Pronounced “false shoe,” which would be a French inflection of a Native American word, this Creole classic is usually made with crawfish and/or tasso ham. Both are hard to find, so we opted for the andouille sausage for its smoky, meaty flavor. We also replaced the standard green pepper with a poblano pepper, which has an earthy flavor and mild heat.
Stirring a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into the finished hash cleared it up even more.
3 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Put aside. One at a time, place each stripped cob into a wide bowl, then use the back of the knife to scrape up and down all around, allowing the liquid to drip into the bowl. Add the grains to the bowl and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add sausage and cook, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and discard the fat in the skillet.
Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onion, bell pepper, poblano pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook, scraping up browned bits and stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and add corn kernels and liquid, ¾ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook, stirring, until corn is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Return sausage to skillet, stir and cook until hot, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in green onions.
For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap