Big Easy Magazine is happy to announce a new weekly segment, Evangeline's Cajun Kitchen! Your lovely host is me, Evangeline Barber Ploof, part of the Big Easy Magazine team. I consider myself a pretty good home cook, but not a chef by any means. Although a self-learned cook, I consider it a hobby- a passion of mine.
Who am I to Lead you Down this Culinary Exploration?
Like so many, food and cooking has strong ties to my childhood, upbringing and family life. Specifically, cooking helps me remain connected to my late mother. She also had a penchant for cooking and was always happy to have a little sous chef by her side. Now that I have my own family to nourish nightly, I feel more connected to her than ever.
I also landed myself a position in the Prepared Foods dept. at Whole Foods for 7 years in my 20s. I ended up learning so much about different types of foods, cooking techniques and food safety from working in a commercial kitchen and it has had a great influence on my cooking style today.
Lastly, I live with Food Network on. I swear I get half of my tips and tricks from being a couch potato watching Food Network. My husband hates it, so sometimes I mix it up with some Investigation Discovery. but that's for another blog...
All that being said, I am purely a lover of cooking, looking to share that passion with others, like you!
Corn Maque Choux with Shrimp & Sausage
full recipe below
The first recipe that I am sharing I made Wednesday for dinner. Like a lot of families, we have different members with different dietary needs/likes. In my household, I have a hubby doing low carb and then myself trying to actually gain weight. Because of that, my recipes definitely have certain boxes to check off in order to make it into the dinner rotation. Satisfying those requirements led me to include two proteins in this dish and to not shy away from the dairy, but the recipe can be edited to suit anyone's needs.
My first step was to cut up the sausage in half lengthwise so that when I cut my .5in slices, they make half circles. While slicing sausage, have a large pan heating up with about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. The pan that I used is 13in wide and 3 in deep. Once finished cutting the sausage, toss them into the skillet with the hot oil.
While the sausage is cooking over medium heat, begin cutting up your onion and peppers. I cut my onion into strips and my bell pepper into large diced chunks. I think that this helps each veggie stand out instead of just all melding together. Take a moment every few minutes to stir your sausage, ensuring they do not burn or stick to the pan. Once your sausage has a little color on them, take them out of the skillet and set aside.
Now's the time to add your cut onions and peppers into the yummy sausage grease left in the skillet. At this time I also sprinkled a little salt all over the vegetables. When adding the salt, you do not need to use a lot. You just want enough to allow for the veggies to start releasing all their flavorful juices. During this time, you can start cutting your tomatoes, remembering to stir the onions and peppers frequently.
Don't be Afraid to Substitute
I chose to use some left over cherry tomatoes for the maque choux, but a can of diced or stewed tomatoes is great. In fact, because I didn't use a can of tomatoes, I added a teaspoon of tomato paste to compensate for that concentrated tomato flavor. Once you have the tomatoes chopped and ready to go, add them to your onions and peppers, and toss in the sausage and garlic as well. Add in your Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne and salt. I choose not to use Cajun seasoning because it has a high salt content, and makes it difficult to gauge the salt level of a recipe.
The shrimp, corn and zucchini do not need to be added until near the end. Add in your chicken stock (I used a cup of water and a chicken bouillon cube because that's what I had on hand) and let simmer for about 10 minutes. While your simmering all the ingredients in your skillet, go ahead and begin cutting your corn and zucchini. I had fresh corn on hand but canned corn also works. Just try to get canned corn with no salt added.
After 10 minutes of simmering, add in the milk, shrimp corn and zucchini. I cut my zucchini into large chunks because I like it to still have bite and texture when it comes down to chow time.
Now that everything is schmoozing in the skillet, let it simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink. Once the shrimp are pink, turn off the heat. Now right about here I realized that since I used whole milk as opposed to heavy cream, my choux was too thin. To thicken it up, I stirred in 1 teaspoon of corn starch, You could also use flour. But if you have the chance to use heavy cream, it is the best option. I also added -super technical term here- 4 swigs of red wine vinegar. I felt it needed some brightness because everything tasted too rich. Again, this is my preference, so I did not include it in the recipe. Any kind of acid would suffice if you feel it needs a little brightness.
Also to note, I did not defrost my shrimp before adding them to the skillet. I wish I had for two reasons. One reason being that it shock cooked parts of the shrimp so they were discolored from the rest of the shrimp. Secondly, I don't think the shrimp ever took on the complete pink color because they were frozen when added. I would suggest using fresh shrimp, or defrosting the shrimp beforehand. The flavor was just as good, it just didn't look as pretty.
Time to Eat!
Now it is ready to serve and enjoy! I added a little Crystal hot sauce to mine because I enjoy a lot of heat. Feel free to jack up the cayenne or add hot sauce to give it a more Cajun kick! Also, this would be great on top of some rice, mashed potatoes or even grits. I opted out of that in order to check off the "low carb" box. Check out the recipe below!