n: A corn-based Cajun side dish with roots in Native American foodways
Combining Cajun and Native American influences, maque choux differs from succotash in that it creams its corn and loses the lima beans. But don’t relegate this corn-centric dish as a side only: all it needs is a helping of boudin, chicken, or shrimp to turn entrée.
First appearing in print in the early twentieth century, the etymological roots of maque choux may appear to derive directly from Spanish and French colonsists, but in all likelihood the name goes back much farther, appropriated from the source of so many of our Southern culinary traditions, the Native Americans. Their name for the dish—long since lost—was probably mispronounced by the Acadians in the late 1700s and then folk etymologized or eggcorned into maque choux, roughly translated to the French “mock cabbage.” While traditional maque choux recipes call for cooking in bacon grease and a double scraping of the corn cob (first to release the kernels and second to “milk” the cob for extra creaminess), nowadays oil and butter have predominantly replaced the grease and canned creamed corn has replaced the double scraping, but we don’t condone this canned shortcut. Whatever the roots of its name, the crucial component of a successful maque choux has remained constant throughout the centuries: fresh sweet local corn, hand-scraped and hand-pulped, a pile of veritable golden nuggets that to this day reference the hospitality of a nation and the generosity of its native peoples.
Corn and Tasso Maque Choux
From chef Gillian Clark of Kitchen on George in Mobile, Alabama
From chef Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods in Fort Worth, Texas
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