I’m pretty sure that I should have been born Southern. Or maybe I was a Southerner in another life.
Evidence: I love all things about southern food, sweet tea so thick you can stand a spoon in it, fluffy biscuits, sweet corn bread, tomato pie, gumbo, jambalaya; the list goes on and on. Oh and how could I forget greens? Collards cooked for hours with a smoked ham hock is a thing of glory. Don’t even get me started about North Carolina barbecue; I am obsessed with its characteristic vinegar based sauce (although that one could also be traced back to the Filipino heritage).
I call all carbonated beverages – coke. Along the lines of “What would you like to drink?”
“I’ll take a Coke.”
“Sprite is fine.”
And finally, after a few drinks I tend to develop a Southern accent. No reason and I’m not trying to do it, but my North Carolina friends find it hilarious. Even my husband comments that at times I get a Southern twang to my voice and considering the only times I’ve been south of Ohio were for vacation reasons, it doesn’t make a bit of sense.
Which (kind of) leads to my recipe idea. This week’s CSA included corn, okra, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Add those all together and I immediately thought of the deliciousness that is maque choux, pronounced mock shoe (the okra especially led to this).
First off, I love okra. Usually in my freezer there’s always a bag of frozen pre-sliced okra so you can imagine my excitement when I opened my CSA box to find fresh okra. And that whole sliminess that people talk about? I can see a bit of it when I’m prepping it, but to me in a dish it transforms into a silkiness that I adore. Although if anyone watches Andrew Zimmerman, there was one episode where he was in Uganda or Tanzania (sorry I can’t remember which) and he was served this okra dish that literally looked like stretchy slime; I’m not sure how I would feel about it if I were in his shoes, but I’d definitely give it a try.
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ lb small diced ham
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 big green bell pepper or 2 small ones
- 1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 cups corn kernels (I ended up using 5 ears)
- 1 lb tomatoes, seeded and chopped, making sure to save any juice
- ½ lb fresh sliced okra (I cut off the stem and the very end tip of them, then slice)
- ½ cup of chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp chipotle chili powder (you could use smoked Spanish paprika instead, but I’d throw in some cayenne with it for a bit of heat)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- (Optional) ¼ cup cheese (I had some Mexican chihuahua left in my fridge that I wanted to use up)
- (Optional) Hot sauce for the table
- In a deep, large skillet over medium high heat melt 1 Tbsp butter. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic. Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened.
- Add corn, sauté another 5 minutes.
- Add in tomatoes with their juice, ham, chicken stock, Cajun seasoning, thyme and chipotle chili powder. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally (mixture will be bubbling).
- Add in okra and cook, stirring occasionally for another ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with about 1 Tbsp cheese per serving. Serve with hot sauce at the table.
Oh my gosh. So simple, so good; I was in veggie heaven!
Both my husband and I put a few dashes of Red Hot on at the table and that slight vinegary heat made it perfect.
Actually my husband commented that this dish was really good and he was dreaming about a version of it with Spanish chorizo. I admit, that would have been fantastic but to keep fat and calories down I would have only been able to use about two ounces of it (versus the 8 oz of ham I did use) – but something to keep in mind if you’re not worried.
I could also see why some people like to serve this with shrimp. Another option would be chicken andouille sausage; all things you could easily sub in for the ham I used.
For the side I kept it simple and made some whole wheat corn bread muffins which were great for sopping up any last bit of liquid.
A word of warning, this makes a huge serving. You’re getting almost two cups per portion. I ended up not finishing mine and the husband happily helped out by eating everything I didn’t.