Friday, April 4, 2014

Black Bean Maque Choux with Cajun Chicken

Black Bean Maque Choux with Cajun Chicken

Maque Choux, pronounced “mock shoe”, is traditionally thought to have come to us through the courtesy of the original French Acadians who migrated from Canada to Louisiana and the Caddo Nation Native Americans who introduced them to corn. I’m just grateful that someone had the good sense to invent this dish!

When sweet corn is abundant and fresh we can’t get enough, and this dish lets those golden nuggets shine!  But don’t wait for summer to make this if you had the forethought to freeze some of last summer’s corn. Even if you didn’t freeze the fresh farmstand stuff you can still use good quality frozen product from your grocer.

With our addition of black beans, this maque choux can be served as a main course dish all by itself, but we still like the accompaniment of our spicy Cajun chicken. The chicken is reminiscent of skillet blackened chicken, but isn’t so intense as to overpower the bed of maque choux on which it rests.

Serve it with your favorite cornbread for a real bayou treat! I’ve included a simple cornbread recipe in the Tips and Trending section following the preparation steps.

Black Bean Maque Choux with Cajun Chicken
Yield:  4 servings     Preparation Time: 30 minutes + 2 hours marinating time     Cooking Time: 30 Minutes


• 4 Boneless / Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
• 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
• 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
• 2 Tablespoons Moscato Wine
• ½ Teaspoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
• ½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
• ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
• ¼ Teaspoon Onion Powder
• ¼ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
• ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
• ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• Dash of Ground Oregano
• 4 Strips Hardwood Smoked Bacon, cut into ¼” dice
• 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
• ½ Cup Onion, cut into ¼” dice
• ¼ Cup Celery, cut into ¼” dice
• ¼ Cup Green Pepper, cut into ¼” dice
• 3 Cups Sweet Corn, fresh or frozen and defrosted
• 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and minced
• 1 Clove Garlic, mashed into paste with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ Pound Campari Tomatoes, seeded and cut into ¼” dice, see Tips and Trending
• 1½ Cups Prepared Black Beans, see Tips and Trending below
• ¼ Cup Homemade Chicken Stock, or low sodium store bought
• ¼ Cup Half & Half
• Tabasco™ Sauce to taste
• ½ Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
• 1 Scallion, white and green parts chopped for garnish

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Rinse the chicken, pat dry and place in a zipper storage bag.

Step 2. Whisk together the olive oil, mustard, wine, paprika, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, thyme, cayenne, black pepper and oregano until blended and pour over the chicken in the bag and seal. Massage the bag to coat the chicken and then refrigerate for 2 hours.

Step 3. Set a 5 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced bacon to the hot pan and cook until crisp, but not overdone. Transfer bacon to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.

Step 4. Keep the heat under the pan at medium and stir in 1 tablespoon of the butter until melted then add the onion, celery and green pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn, jalapeno and garlic and cook stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and half & half. Cook until bubbling then stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes while cooking the chicken, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid does not simmer away adding equal amounts of half & half and chicken stock if necessary.

Step 5. Grill or broil the marinated chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side until thoroughly cooked then set aside to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Stir the sugar into the Maque Choux and add Tabasco sauce to taste. Season with salt if desired.

Slice the chicken into medallions and serve on a bed of Maque Choux. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Tips and Trending

~ Moscato is a light-bodied, semi-sweet, fruity wine with a lower alcohol content than most other dessert wines.  I like to cook with it when I want a lighter note than a sherry.

~ The dry ingredients used in the marinade in this recipe are what we combine to make our Creole Seasoning.  If you like to cook with a Cajun flair we suggest you make a batch of this seasoning and keep it handy in your pantry. Here’s the recipe for a single batch which makes about ⅓ cup so you’ll have plenty for this dish and enough to experiment with later for blackened seafood or chicken. You can also toss shellfish with it before and after steaming.

• 2½ Tablespoons Sweet Hungarian Paprika
• 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
• 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt 

• 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder 

• 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme 

• 1 Tablespoon Ground Cayenne Pepper 

• 1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1 Teaspoon Ground Oregano

Put all the ingredients in an airtight container and shake to combine.

~ Campari Tomatoes are my preference for this recipe. However, if your grocer doesn’t have this sweet, low-acid, thin-skinned variety you can substitute your favorite.

~ For the black beans I prefer to use dried beans that I have rinsed then pre-soaked overnight. Before starting on the recipe, cover the beans with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans covered for 30 minutes and then uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Drain and use in the recipe. Depending on their age, 1 cup of dried beans will become 2 cups after soaking. Even though this recipe would call for ¾ cup of dried beans to end up with 1½ cups after soaking and cooking, I always start with 1 cup dried to make sure I have enough. You can always toss any extra beans in with a salad!  If you don’t have the time to prepare dried beans, use one 15 ounce can of organically prepared black beans. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly with running water to wash away all of the goop from the can.

~ Here’s a simple cornbread recipe you can whip up while the chicken marinates and bake while the Maque Choux simmers.

• ¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
• ¾ Cup Corn Meal
• ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
• 2½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
• ¾ Teaspoon Salt
• 2 Whole Eggs, beaten
• 1 Cup Milk
• ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted
Step 1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a 9” x 9” square baking pan with shortening.
Step 2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt until blended.
Step 3. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and butter, whisk in beaten eggs and pour all at once into flour mixture. Stir to combine.
Step 4. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in pan before slicing. Serve warm.

If you have some additional corn kernels from the Maque Choux, stir ½ cup in to the batter before baking.

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