Now here’s a dish representing, I think, a cultural history that is one of the tastiest; Creole and Native American. I guess it is technically Acadian French (Cajun) and Native American, but I like to Creole it up a bit. Plus, Southern Louisiana dishes always have me befuddled as to which is Creole specifically and which is Cajun specifically. I’d like to meet an expert and pick his brains for about a day.
Well for those of you who don’t know, introducing Maque Choux. It’s pronounced ‘mock shoe’ and it is one of the tastiest blends of ingredients I ever put on a plate. Really.
The idea for this dish was a whim, but most of my dishes are. I bought some ramps off eBay for the first time after reading about them from my blogging bud Claudia. I wanted a way to use them. I must testify, these are wonderful little taste bud exciters. They aren’t garlicy, per se, nor oniony, rather a blend of both with a serious punch of flavor. I’m serious people, these little guys may look like scallions, but I warn you, they are not. They are much better. It is a shame that their season is only from April to the end of May, but this is one wild leek that I will put on my calendar for an annual reminder.
So I’m thinking I want some okra as well. I don’t know why I have been craving okra as of late, but I have been seriously jonezin for the slimy little veggie. By the way, for those of you who think that okra is too slimy to put into your dishes, in this dish the okra slime is better than a tasteless corn starch slurry with regard to thickening the sauce.
So I decide to head to the web, my massive array of dust collecting recipe books notwithstanding, to find something that I can make with the ramps and the okra. I definitely did NOT want to make risotto with okra. No way. I found several variations of this dish floating about and decided to concoct my own version. You see, maque choux is typically served as a Creole/Cajun side dish as in succotash; sans limas. But add some crawfish, chiclen, or what have you to make this really a treat. You can make it quickly too. If you chose to use frozen ingredients then you have an even quicker meal.
Trust me, because I was a Boy Scout and Boy Scouts are trustworthy, this is something that you want to try. Mine is a bit on the spicy side, but like I said, the combination of ingredients is really up to you. You really only need start the base with corn, bell pepper, tomato, celery, and onion.
You’ll want to serve this with a hefty slice of bread to sop up the sauce.
1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 lb andouille sausage quartered and diced
1 large red (or green) bell pepper diced
1 cup ramps (or scallions) sliced 1/4 inch
1 bulb garlic
2 stalks celery diced
1 large yellow onion diced
1 1/2 cups okra sliced 1/2 inch
4 ears of corn cut off cob
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
1 cup tomatoes diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add celery, onion, and bell pepper. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft.
2. Add garlic, corn, okra, and tomatoes. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add ramps and cook for about 8 minutes more. Add thyme, heavy cream, and hot sauce to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
4. Add shrimp and cook for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
5. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with rice and bread.