Corn Macquechoux

“Macquechoux” is the Cajun French rendition of a word used by the Native Americans who lived in what is now Louisiana. It meant “cooked corn,” so “corn macquechoux” is redundant. But never mind. It’s a delicious and common side dish in Cajun country, good enough that it’s made its way into New Orleans Creole cooking. The corn is cooked down with all the ingredients of a Creole sauce and a lot of butter. The corn becomes soft and almost a stew, but the kernels don’t disintegrate. In some families, enough sugar is added to the concoction to make it unambiguously sweet.

Macquechoux can be turned into an entree by adding crawfish tails, small shrimp, or diced andouille sausage to the mix. Those variations are typically made with more pepper than for a side dish.

  • 5 ears fresh yellow corn
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 small, ripe but firm tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • Tabasco jalapeno sauce to taste
  • For an entree:
  • 2 lbs. fresh Louisiana crawfish tails or medium shrimp or andouille sausage (the latter diced)

1. Shuck the corn and rinse with cold water. Hold the corn upright with the tip of the ear on a shallow plate. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the ear. When finished, use the knife to scrape the ears to extract as much of the corn “milk” as possible. Do this for all the ears.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter until it bubbles, and add the onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cook until they soften.

3. Lower the heat. Add the corn and the corn milk, and all the other ingredients up to and including the cayenne. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 20-25 minutes. If the mixture becomes so dry that it’s hard to stir, add a little half-and-half to loosen it up.

4. Adjust the seasonings with salt and Tabasco jalapeno sauce. Serve as a side dish with almost anything.

For an entree:
If using shrimp, add them to the butter in step 1 before the vegetables, and cook until they turn pink. Remove and reserve. Add the shrimp back to the pot, with all their juices, when the corn has about five more minutes to cook.

If using crawfish tails, add them to the corn when it has about ten minutes left to cook. Use extra Tabasco.

If using andouille, cook the dice in a pan to extract some of the fat. (This can also be done by wrapping the andouille in a paper towel and microwaving it for two minutes or so.) Add the andouille to the corn when it has about ten minutes left to cook.

Makes eight side dishes or four entrees.

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