Sometimes you just want to eat something out of the ordinary, but you don’t want to have to buy a lot of ingredients. I was in that sort of mood last night, and looking around in the cupboards and refrigerator I decided to get creative.
Maque Choux sounds super fancy, but it’s really just a traditional dish of sauteed corn, peppers, and onions that originated in southern Louisiana. I added a bit of a Southwestern twist to it by using jalepenos, cilantro, and avocados. The addition of sour cream is a nod to rajas, a wonderful side dish of caramelized onions, hot pepper slices and sour cream served scooped into corn tortillas.
The maque choux is served either on top or alongside chicken cutlets that are breaded in a corn tortilla chip crust and then lightly panfried. This is definitely a summery sort of dish that helps to get out of the winter meat and potato slump. Serve with an ice cold beer, preferably something pale.
For the chicken:
•1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts, pounded into thin cutlets
•flour, for dredging the chicken
•2 eggs, beaten
•1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
•1/4 cup cornmeal
•1/4 cup flour
•1 teaspoon chili powder
•1 teaspoon cumin
•1/2 teaspoon oregano
•Salt, to taste
•About 1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the maque choux:
•2 Tablespoons butter
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•4 cloves garlic, minced
•2-3 jalapeno peppers
•4 cups frozen corn
•1/4 cup sour cream
•a small handful of chopped cilantro
•1/2 teaspoon black pepper
•cayenne pepper, to taste
•Salt, to taste
•2 avocados, cubed
Preheat oven to 350.
Set out three plates. Add about 1/2 cup of flour on the first plate. Beat two eggs on the second plate. Mix the crushed tortilla chips, cornmeal 1/4 cup flour, chili powder, cumin, and salt together on the last plate. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the chicken cutlets first in flour, then dip into egg, and then coat evenly on both sides with the tortilla chip mixture. Fry in the skillet one at a time for about two minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets. Place the chicken in the oven to finish cooking. This should take about 20 minutes.
While the chicken is in the oven heat the butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook, stirring often until the onions begin to brown.
Add the corn. Turn heat down to medium. Simmer until the jalapenos become tender, about 10 minutes. You may need to add a little bit or water or chicken stock so that the pan does not scorch. Stir in the sour cream, cilantro, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Season with a little bit of salt, but not too much. Remember, the coating for the chicken is already salty because of the tortilla chips. Heat through. Stir in the avocados just before serving.
Serve the maque choux with the chicken cutlets.