When trying a new recipe such as Maque Choux, the first step is obvious: figure out how to pronounce it. If you’re going to try a new dish and then write about the experience like a competent cook and not an Inspector Clouseau of the kitchen, you could at least be bothered to get the name right. As you can see from the shameless pun in the title, I’m definitely pronouncing it right. Seriously. I mean it. Go check. I’ll wait.
The next step: print out the recipe. Not only will that help follow the rules step by step, but also, if you spill a little grease or oil on the recipe, people will see you mean business when you cook.
Oh, and that bacon you decided to add to the recipe to add some texture and protein? Don’t forget to start cooking it even though it isn’t in the recipe. Starting to fry the bacon halfway through the cooking process means the possible crispy, crunchy protein texture will end up being a bit globular and weak, if still tasty.
But you know what? All worth it. And even Clouseau solved the case occasionally.
I started by shaving corn cobs, sliding a sharp chef’s knife down in graceful strokes that peel the kernels off in sheets into a bowl. There’s something oddly satisfying in that. But not quite as satisfying as snapping the cobs in half and adding them to the bowl full of corn, after pressing the back of the blade – or should that be the flat of the blade? I’m not sure – into each cob and scraping down, which apparently releases corn ‘milk’ into the bowl.
Seriously, I never would have thought of adding corn cobs to any sort of sauté project. Not in a hundred years, at least. Maybe in 101 years, but I would be dead by then, when corn-knowledge would be useless. So thank god for recipes.
You know what’s fun? Throwing a bunch of butter, onion, celery, and salt into a pan and making them turn all sizzly. That feels like an accomplishment. That I can do.
But what’s scary is working with peppers, especially when I just ordered the ingredients off Instacart and wasn’t entirely sure which were the poblano peppers and which were the serrano chiles.
I looked them up online, but then I was faced with another dilemma. The recipe called for coring, seeding, and dicing a ‘small’ poblano pepper. What constitutes small? This?
This was no small concern. I’m not exactly a Ghost Pepper Wrangler. Even medium salsa can make me reach for ice water and yogurt. What would happen if I didn’t remove enough seeds? What if I added too much pepper?
I had to make a call, so I detached about 43.4% of one poblano pepper, bagged the remainder, banished the seeds, and cut it up as finely as I could, following my old principle that “Peppers are not your friend unless they’re Bell.” The red bell pepper, of course, was easily prepped, wheat before my sickle. I can chop a mean bell pepper, no matter the color, great for snacks, because even a six year old likes chopped bell pepper as snack.
And then it was time to mix it all together.
Stirring, sizzling, avoiding the steam. It was a bit hard stirring around the corn cobs without spilling ingredients out of the pan, but I did it.
Covered it, of course. Every fool knows you cover a sauté pan for a minute or two. It ‘traps juices’ or catches the soul of the food, or something.
Then I discarded the corn cobs and added the shredded bacon which I had indeed remembered to fry (albeit not long enough).
Healthy, light, flavorful, and just a bit of kick, enough to make me feel like I knew what a kitchen was really for.
Every day I can make an unboxed meal with at least three or four colors, that’s a good day during the pandemic and burgeoning apocalypse.
Keep trying. Keep frying. Keep testing new recipes. Every project is a spicy win! Especially when no one dies from spice poisoning or bad cooking.