Cajun Maque Choux and Shrimp

Mardi Gras is coming up this Tuesday, so I figured why not make Maque Choux, one of my favorite Cajun side dishes?  I love just about all Cajun food and couldn’t get enough of it the few times that I’ve visited Louisiana.  I was introduced to maque choux during my first trip to New Orleans and remember it being this wonderfully sweet, creamy, delicious corn dish.  Since then I’ve had several different versions of it in restaurants here and there.  Some recipes call for heavy cream while some don’t.  Of the recipes I was researching, there were no sign of tomatoes in them.  David vehemently protested that there were tomatoes in a traditional maque choux, so I gave in and made sure they were included in my recipe.  Here I adapted a recipe from Saveur and chose to make it into more of a full entrée meal as opposed to a side dish which I’ve previously eaten it as.  The recipe here doesn’t call for cream, but in the future, especially when using frozen corn, finishing it with cream would be ideal.

Cajun Maque Choux and Shrimp
Total Time: 20 min
Yield: 4 servings

• 2 slices bacon, chopped
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
• 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 8 small okra, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
• *4 ears sweet corn, shucked, kernels sliced off and cob “milked” (or one 12-oz. package frozen corn, thawed)
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
• 16 medium shrimp (about 8 oz.), peeled, tails removed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups white rice, for serving

In a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in hot bacon fat. Add onion, red pepper, jalapeño and salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant.  Increase heat to high; add okra and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and the okra get some color, about 5 minutes. Stir in scallions, tomatoes, thyme and remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream to finish if desired.  Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat oven to broil and place a rack 8″ from broiler. Toss shrimp with oil, salt, and pepper on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet.  Arrange in a single layer and broil, turning once using tongs, until pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Serve the maque choux and shrimp on top of a bed of rice; garnish with reserved bacon.

* If using fresh corn, remove kernels and then scrape each cob to remove all milk and pulp.  This “milk” from the cob gives the dish richness and should replace the heavy cream

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