Corn, tomatoes and peppers are central in native American culinary geography. Like the three sisters — corn, squash and beans – that are grown together to complement each other’s habits, corn, tomatoes and peppers mature around the same time and therefore are natural companions at the dinner table.
A specialty of Southern Louisiana, the Cajun dish called “maquechoux” consists of sautéed corn with vegetables, seasoned with bacon and crowned with cream. It doesn’t need a lot of cream since the milky pulp of the corn – created by barely slicing some of the corn kernels from the cob and scraping off the corn pulp with the back of the knife blade – lends a unique creaminess. I have typically made this with scallions, but regular yellow onions would be fine. Similarly, I typically use red pepper but green pepper or a combination is fine. I have even gone so far as adding steamed okra.
Louisiana Maquechoux adapted from Bert Greene, Greene on Greens
6 ears of corn
2 slices bacon
6 scallions, bulbs and green tops sliced separately
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ tsp sugar (optional, depends on the sweetness of the corn)
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp chopped fresh basil
¼-1/3 c heavy cream
Salt and black pepper
Cut the kernels from 3 ears of corn in a wide shallow bowl. For the other 3 ears, hold the cobs vertically and slice through the kernels about halfway. With the blunt side of the knife blade, scrape the cob to release the milky pulp.
Saute the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove the bacon to drain. Add the white part of the scallion and the red pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar (if using), thyme and basil. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the corn and cream and cook, stirring, until the corn is tender and the mixture is creamy, about 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with the green parts of the scallions and crumbled bacon.
Serves 6 amply.