The star of maque choux, one of the classic dishes of Louisiana’s Cajun country, is fresh summer corn.
Naturally sweet kernels are in delicious balance with a savoury mix of vegetables and crawfish. But it can veer to the heavy side, thanks largely to the addition of cream.
To lighten the recipe for our book Milk Street Tuesday Nights, which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we utilize an element that most cooks throw out — the corn cobs.
Instead of weighing down the dish with dairy, which tends to dull other flavours, we extract the “milk” of the corn.
After cutting the kernels off, 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 other ingredients.
Pronounced “mock shoe,” which is said to be a French inflexion of a Native American word, this Creole classic usually is made with crawfish and/or tasso ham.
Both are hard to come by, so we opted for andouille sausage for its smoky, meaty flavour.
We also swapped the standard green bell pepper for a poblano chilli, which has an earthy flavour and mild heat.
Stirring a tablespoon of cider vinegar into the finished hash brightened it even more.
Maque Choux with Andouille Sausage
3 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 oz andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
2 tbsps salted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 poblano chilli, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp cider vinegar
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Set aside. One at a time, stand each stripped cob in a wide bowl, then use the back of the knife to scrape from top to bottom, allowing the liquid to fall into the bowl. Add the kernels to the bowl and set them aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until well browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and discard any fat in the skillet.
Set the skillet over medium and melt the butter. Add the onion, bell pepper, poblano chilli and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, scraping up any browned bits and occasionally stirring until the vegetables soften 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and add the corn kernels and liquid, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until the corn is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Return the sausage to the skillet, stir and cook until heated through about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions.
By Christopher Kimball