This is a great side dish with so many things. With the corn, beans, and vegetables it’s all you need with a piece of meat. Leftovers make a great dip with corn chips, or the base and dressing for a wonderful full-meal salad (tune in next week for BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad underway). Best of all, you can make it largely out of cans and it’s almost as good as with all fresh ingredients–a huge advantage if you’re off cruising without access to provisions.
The real secret to making this hearty, tasty side dish more fun is the toppings: fresh cilantro, green onions, and chopped raw okra give the flavorful, creamy base some crunch and freshness. I had never eaten okra raw before trying it this way — the cross-slices of the pods, with their big seeds, are like little vegetable-popcorn bites!
Maque choux is a quintessential cajun dish, originating when the local Native Americans taught the arriving French Creoles how to use corn. In an authentic or fancy version, you use fresh corn and scrape the cobs for the milk that gives the dish its creamy texture. On a long cruise without access to provisions — or to make this a quicker, cleaner, easier to make dish — I just use canned corn and add a good dollop of sour cream (or heavy cream) after cooking. Because long cruise or no…I have cream, or the Captain can expect a mutiny from the galley…..
1 large yellow onion
3-5 good-sized garlic cloves
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small bag frozen, or two cans, corn, drained
4 oz sour cream (or heavy cream)
Half a dozen green onions, handful cilantro leaves, 6-8 okra pods, sliced
Saute yellow onion (in a couple tablespoons of bacon grease if you have it, any oil if not) about 5 min until translucent.
Add finely-diced jalapeno and garlic and sautee for about 5 min until onion browns without burning.
Add the red bell pepper and saute until soft. At this point you have a great base for so many things: I frequently make a double batch of just this at home and freeze it in small batches in Ziploc bags to use for future maque choux in a flash (without need for fresh veggies or chopping time) or to use in scrambled eggs.
Add beans and tomatoes…
Finally, add the corn and continue to stir over medium heat until heated through. It still freezes fairly well at this point, though it will have a bit less structure when you defrost and reheat it. But if you are provisioning in a land-galley for a long passage where you will have minimal galley time and stability, this is a great solution to shortage of vegetable dishes.
Off heat, stir in half a cup of sour cream (or heavy cream). Top with cilantro leaves and sliced green onions and okra.
I highly suggest serving this with BBQ chicken (for which I highly recommend homemade BBQ sauce), so that you can have the fabulous salad tomorrow.
Eddy the spaniel highly recommends the chicken as well.